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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a policy guidance today clarifying that federal drug violations, including for marijuana, will generally prevent an individual from proving “good moral character” for purposes of naturalization, even where state law has decriminalized marijuana.
Background: Ten states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized recreational marijuana, and 33 states have legalized medical marijuana. Canada legalized marijuana in October.
In June 2017, the USCIS broadened the permanent residency application to include questions about controlled substance violations of state, federal or foreign laws at any time in the past.
BAL Analysis: The policy guidance is a reminder of that marijuana use carries serious immigration consequences. In addition to being a bar to naturalization, violation of a controlled substance law is considered grounds for inadmissibility, which can affect eligibility for other immigration benefits including a visa, green card, or change of immigration status. Applicants should seek legal counsel for information and advice in individual circumstances.
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