How A DUI Can Impact An Immigration Application

There are many ways in which a criminal conviction can impact an immigration application. A charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can impact an immigration application based on the circumstances of the DUI, what other laws might have been broken, and any other crimes recently committed by the defendant. If you are facing a DUI charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101 to have your immigration questions answered and ensure your legal rights remain protected.

Current Immigration Status

Knowing how a DUI can impact an immigration application starts by understanding your current immigration status in the United States.

Undocumented

If you are undocumented and do not have the legal right to be in the United States, and are convicted of a DUI, this can result in deportation or at the very least mark on your record that will later be disclosed when you file an immigration application.

Green Card Renewal

If you have a green card and are up for renewal, a single DUI conviction may not result in a denial of your application or deportation, but a second DUI conviction will increase your chances of denial or deportation.

Applying for a Green Card or To Be a Permanent Citizen

If you are applying for a green card or permanent status as a citizen of the United States, and you are convicted of a DUI, it can influence one component of your application. However, if it is your first DUI offense it may not result in an automatic denial or a significant change to your current proceedings.

DUI Arrest versus Conviction

A key delineator when it comes to a DUI and immigration status is whether there was a DUI arrest or a conviction. A DUI arrest on its own is not typically enough to trigger a subsequent review of your moral character and your immigration application but a DUI conviction would have a much greater chance of impacting your immigration status in the United States.

DUI Arrest

An arrest for a DUI does not mean that a person is legally guilty of committing a DUI crime, it simply means that a person is suspected of committing a crime. If you are arrested for a DUI, consider reaching out to an attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall. Our experienced DUI attorneys can help answer all of your legal questions and ensure your rights remain protected. A DUI arrest simply means the police officers had probable cause to suspect that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but you can challenge the evidence and present a legal defense in order to try and get the DUI charges dropped or reduced.

DUI Conviction

A DUI conviction indicates that a person is legally guilty of committing the crime of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If convicted of a DUI, a defendant receives a sentence in the form of fines, jail time, revocation of their driver’s license, or all three.

Immigration Applications and Good Moral Character

A critical component to an immigration application according to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services is having ‘good moral character’ or GMC. Generally, anyone applying to become a citizen of the United States has to prove that they have good moral character, have had a good moral character for 5 years prior to filing, and retain good moral character until such time as they provide their oath of Allegiance to the United States.

Defining Good Moral Character

Defining good moral character is often challenging given that the federal government evaluates GMC on a case-by-case basis. There are a few types of criminal conduct that will automatically violate the good moral character component and result in denial of an immigration application and potential deportation. These include:

Two or more of the same criminal offenses within a 5 year period

Conviction of a crime that directly involves the lack of moral character such as murder, aggravated felony, child pornography offenses, firearms offenses, illegal trafficking of drugs or weapons, or sexual abuse of any kind

Incarceration for a crime 180 days or longer

Any conviction, or judge-ordered form of punishment, even if you entered into a plea deal, will necessitate a review of your immigration application. When a legal conviction happens, police officers can review the situation as it applies to the good moral character component of an immigration application.

Other Circumstances

There are other circumstances that will be considered when an immigration officer reviews the DUI conviction. If other charges were brought against you and you were convicted of those charges, they may be taken into consideration by the immigration officer reviewing your immigration application.

Good moral character is meant to determine individuals whose character is similar to those who are already United States citizens. To that end, charges of reckless driving or illegal drug use in addition to a DUI charge can serve as aggravating factors. Driving without a driver’s license, causing injury to others, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a child in the car might also be viewed as pointing to a bad moral character because it represents a disregard for the safety of others.

Immigration Application Considerations

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security United States Citizen and Immigration Services released a new policy in 2019 on the impact of charges like a DUI and immigration status.

In the case of Castillo-Perez, the United States Justice Department ruled that two or more convictions of DUIs violated the requirements of “good moral character” on immigration applications. This falls under the aforementioned good moral character component whereby you are convicted for two or more of the same offenses within a 5-year period.

However, beyond that, the impact a DUI conviction will have on your immigration application is up to the officers reviewing the conviction as it extends to the good moral character component.

Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney Today

Every situation is different and the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest or conviction will play a serious role in determining your moral character and determining the status of your immigration application. Knowing how a DUI can impact an immigration application is important to your current application, and your peace of mind. If you were arrested for a DUI or recently convicted of a DUI, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at www.farlawoffice.com or 703-934-0101.