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Laws current as of May 29, 2024

What does it mean to have good moral character?

In order to qualify for a VAWA self-petition, you must be a person of “good moral character.”1 Immigration laws don’t specifically define what “good moral character” is but the laws do list various acts that could disqualify (“bar”) someone from proving good moral character.2 However, you may qualify for a waiver, which could excuse any acts that disqualify you, if your good moral character problem is connected to the abuse you suffered. An immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA will help you figure out whether this applies to you.

As part of proving your good moral character, if you are age 14 or older, you will need to submit a police clearance for each place in which you lived for at least six months during the past three years.3 Alternatively, you can get an FBI background check, which covers all states. If you are younger than 14, USCIS will assume (“presume”) that you have good moral character so you don’t need to provide police clearance.4

1 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(II)(bb), a(1)(A)(iv), (a)(1)(A)(vii)(II), (a)(1)(B)(ii)(II)(bb), (a)(1)(B)(iii)
2 8 USC 1101(f), INA 101(f)
3 8 CFR § 204.2(c)(2)(v), (e)(2)(v)
4 8 CFR § 204.2(e)(2)(v)