In United Stateslaw, good moral character is an ambiguous criteria that determines whether a person has a moral character that is good. Good moral character can, depending on the assessor, include everything from honesty, trustworthiness, diligence, reliability, respect for the law, integrity, candor, discretion, observance of fiduciary duty, respect for the rights of others, fiscal responsibility, physical ability to practice a profession, knowledge of the law, mental and emotional stability, a commitment to the judicial process, profession-specific criteria, and the lack of a history of criminal activity. Since the moral character of a person is an intrinsic psychological characteristic and cannot be measured directly, some scholars and statutes used the phrase “behaved as a person of good moral character.”
People must have good moral character determined as a fact of law in predominately two contexts - (1) state-issued licensure that allows one to work and practice a regulated profession and (2) federal government-issued U.S. citizenship certificates whereby an immigrant undergoes naturalization to become a citizen.
Good moral character is the opposite of moral turpitude, another legal concept in the United States used in similar instances.
Good moral character can be proven through the presence of several positive moral findings, having no-to-minimal negative moral findings, and by the absence of legal violations. Positive evidence of good moral character can include letters of reccomendation, pursuing education, working seven days a week, owning one’s home, attending church every Sunday, marrying one’s high-school sweetheart, having strong ties to one’s nuclear family, coaching little league teams, teaching English above all other languages in one’s home, paying taxes, paying bills on time, and volunteering in the community.
Negative findings of moral character can include having children without being married, not paying taxes, receiving government support, and advocating for racism. The presence of any negative finding can outweigh several positive findings.
Committing and being convicted of two or more offenses with a total sentence of five or more years
Being confined to a penal institution during the statutory period (either the preceding three or five years, depending on the circumstances, or one year for Armed Forces expedited cases) for an aggregate of 180 days or more
Committing and being convicted of two or more gambling offenses