As this blog has noted previously, the growing movement to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan and several other states has led to a lot of confusion and some unpredictable results. Now, under a newly announced policy, immigrants who work in the cannabis industry where it is legal to do so may find it difficult to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Recently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that officials may deny citizenship to immigrants who work in the marijuana industry, even if they do so where the industry is legal. The policy has long been rumored, and was formally announced in a letter that said that involvement in the industry indicates a lack of “good moral character,” and therefore can be used as grounds for denying citizenship.

Most immigrants who are trying to become permanent residents or citizens of the United States are familiar with the idea that criminal charges can seriously damage their plans. Non-citizens may face deportation and removal if they violate certain immigration laws or are convicted of certain criminal offenses. Once deported, they may not be able to legally return to the United States, even as a visitor.

With all this in mind, many immigrants are careful about following the law. However, as the letter shows, even some legal activity can apparently endanger a person’s immigration status. Some immigration attorneys have been recommending to their clients that they avoid jobs in the marijuana industry.

In today’s heated political atmosphere, there are many ways to run into trouble with immigration law. Immigrants who are seeking citizenship or permanent residency can speak to an immigration attorney about their options and the best strategies for protecting themselves.