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USCIS Issues Policy Alert on Controlled Substance-Related Activity and Good Moral Character Determinations

USCIS issued guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that violation of federal controlled substance law, including for marijuana, remains a conditional bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law.

Acting AG Sets New Briefing Schedule for Matter of L‑E‑A‑ and Matter of Castillo-Perez

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced a new briefing schedule for Matter of L‑E‑A‑, a decision he previously referred to himself for review of whether, and under what circumstances, an individual may establish persecution on account of membership in a “particular social group” based on membership in a family unit. He also announced a new briefing schedule for Matter of Castillo-Perez, a decision he previously referred to himself for review of issues related to eligibility for cancellation of removal and the impact of multiple convictions for driving while intoxicated when determining whether an individual lacks “good moral character.” In both cases, briefs of amici are now due on or before February 25, 2019.

Court Defers to BIA’s Interpretation of Good Moral Character Requirements

The Fifth Circuit held that the BIA did not err in concluding that a petitioner cannot establish good moral character if he has been incarcerated for 180 days or more, regardless of the nature of the underlying crime of conviction. The court also upheld the BIA’s interpretation that INA §240A(b)(1) requires the petitioner to establish good moral character during the 10 years immediately preceding the final administrative decision of the IJ or BIA on the petitioner’s application, as opposed to the 10 years preceding service of the NTA.

CA7 Confirms Lack of Jurisdiction to Review GMC Determination

The court found that although good moral character is a statutory requirement for cancellation of removal, the decision whether an alien has such character involves the exercise of administrative discretion.

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