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Can a DUI affect your immigration status?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2023 | Firm News

This can be a complicated question to answer, and it can heavily depend on the facts at hand. That’s why before you agree to any sort of plea deal in your criminal case, you need to have a strong understanding of what’s at stake in your case. We hope to help provide a little insight with this post.

How your specific DUI charge impacts your immigration status

Within the category of DUI charges, there are more specific criminal offenses. For example, a first-time DUI where your blood alcohol concentration was barely over the legal limit may only be a misdemeanor offense that has little to no bearing on your immigration status.

By contrast, a DUI charge that arises from a severe accident where other people are seriously injured or killed is much more likely to result in felony charges that can upend your immigration status.

Therefore, you’ll want to carefully analyze the type of drunk driving charge that you’ve been hit with. Then, you’ll need to analyze the evidence against you to see if there’s a way to either beat the charges or negotiate them down to something lesser that minimizes the impact a conviction will have on your immigration status.

What will happen to your immigration status?

Again, that depends on the facts at hand. However, here are some of the ways that a drunk driving conviction may affect you:

  • Negative implications for your employment visa: If you were admitted to the United States on an employment visa, then you need to retain your employment in order to remain in this country. Oftentimes, though, a DUI conviction leads to the loss of employment, which means that you could have your employment visa revoked.
  • Inadmissible determination: If you’re seeking a visa, then your drunk driving conviction may throw up obstacles that are difficult to overcome. If your conviction resulted in a sentence of five years or more, the crime is considered to have exhibited moral turpitude, or the conviction is deemed to illustrate that you’re a habitual drunk, then you might be deemed inadmissible. This will impact your ability to secure the life that you want in this country, and it might prevent you from reuniting with your loved ones who are already here.
  • Deportation: If the crime for which you’re convicted is serious enough, then you may be placed in removal proceedings. One DUI conviction, on its own, is not sufficient to result in being placed in removal proceedings. But this combined with other convictions or offenses may. Removal or deportation proceedings may strip you of the life that you’ve built here while taking you away from your family and friends. There has been proposed immigration policy to make multiple DUI convictions a removable offense if you are a resident. In addition, if you are a nonresident and not in legal status a DUI arrest may result in your being placed in detention, removal proceedings, without bond, and ordered deported or removed.
  • Citizenship delay: A DUI arrest can affect your Naturalization application; a conviction will affect your application and processing:  you may see your naturalization and acquisition of citizenship delayed. This is because you’ll have to demonstrate good moral character for the five-year period leading up to your application for citizenship, and a drunk driving conviction or arrest even if dismissed, will certainly tarnish the perception of your character when it comes to immigration laws.

Don’t leave your immigration status to chance

Although you might think that immigration laws are black and white, that certainly isn’t the case. There’s a lot of gray area, which gives you the opportunity to argue why your position should be protected.

That’s not easy to do, though, especially when you’re unfamiliar with how the immigration laws in the United States work. You don’t have to stress about all of that on your own.