By Gary Endelman
Thinking of applying for naturalization? Before you file your N-400, you might want to kick back and spend a few moments to imbibe the lessons imparted by Khamooshpour v Holder, No. CV-10-01266-PHX-NVW(D.Ariz. Feb. 14, 2011). Money laundering in violation of the Iranian Embargo Controls and failing to report foreign bank accounts will make it pretty darn difficult to show good moral character. This is true even if the conduct took place beyond the five year period for which GMC must be shown so long as the conviction itself took place within the charmed circle of time. The way the USCIS interprets 8 CFR 316.10(a), the need to prove you are worthy of becoming a citizen starts from five years before the N-400 comes on stream and continues until the applicant takes the sacred final oath. Nor are you home free if the USCIS cannot pin the dreaded CMT tag on you. Even if 8 CFR 316.10(b)(2)(i) does not apply, the USCIS can still say a loud “NYET!” by finding that the challenged actions “reflected adversely” on your moral character . 8 CFR 316.10(b)(3)(iii) makes it legal. That is a pretty broad catch-all phrase when they want to turn thumbs down.
Deliberate violation of the Iranian Embargo will not be lightly dismissed as a malum prohibitum regulatory offense. If you want to grease the skids to pass back and forth between New York and Tehran, best to get a license from your friendly Office of Foreign Assets Control. Similarly, if you have a foreign bank account worth more than $10,000, failing to report it to Uncle Sam is going to be seen as a willful omission making you one bad actor. So, don’t try to exchange money without a license, report your hefty foreign bank accounts and you too can get that shiny new naturalization certificate. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. Now, you can apply!