The process of immigration in the United States can be complex; even seemingly ideal candidates can be denied based on small factors, particularly in the case of cap-subject categories.
A DUI or DWI conviction can have a significant impact on immigration proceedings, adding more complications to an already challenging process. In order to understand the possible consequences of a DUI on immigration options, it is important to first consider how a DUI may be viewed by an immigration officer.
DUI vs. DWI and Related Terms
First, it is important to be aware that while DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) are two of the most commonly recognized traffic offenses, they may be known by other names depending upon the state in which the offense occurred. Similar names and offenses include: OUI (operating under the influence), OWI (operating while intoxicated) and DWAI (driving while ability impaired). Being convicted of any of these offenses could negatively impact immigration proceedings.
The Immigration Categories Affected
A DUI conviction has the biggest impact when an individual applies for an immigration benefit. When a person submits an application to alter, renew or otherwise change their current immigration status, their criminal history and driving record will be reviewed.
It is possible to plan an approach to immigration, even with a DUI on record. The acts most commonly associated with a denial, as a result of a DUI, include admission into the United States after travel, renewing a visa, seeking asylum, applying for work authorization or attempting to adjust status to a green card or naturalization.
Problematic Categories of Immigration Requirements
In determining what the consequences of a DUI will be for an individual, immigration officers typically consider one or more of a number of categories; the first is moral turpitude. This term refers to an act that severely violates what a community considers acceptable and normal.
The good news is that a DUI,by itself, is rarely considered a crime of moral turpitude, but it can sometimes fall into this category if other elements were present, such as knowingly driving while unlicensed.
In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that a DUI is not, by nature, a crime of violence. However, event specific actions associated with a DUI, such as an aggravated felony, which is a crime of violence, could create unfavorable consequences.
Those individuals filing for immigration benefits such as naturalization will need to pass a standard for good moral character. A DUI can have a significant impact here, as it is placed on a person’s criminal record and could prevent progress in the naturalization process.
Furthermore, multiple DUI convictions could lead to immigration determining that you are an individual who is addicted to alcohol and deny your application. However, a legal professional may be able to assist in reducing the impact of a DUI on the acquisition of immigration benefits.
Types of Consequences for DUI or DWI Conviction
If a DUI has a negative impact on your immigration case, you can generally expect one of three possible outcomes:
Deportation: You may risk being deported from the United States as a result of having a criminal record when you move to alter your immigration status,
Denial of citizenship: If you are seeking citizenship, your application may be denied,
Denial of admissibility: If you are attempting to enter the United States on a visa, you may not be admitted into the country based on your DUI conviction.
Work with a Skilled Immigration Lawyer for Your Case
A DUI on your record is not necessarily the end of your immigration pursuit. A skilled attorney will help you compose a case that calls into question the basis of what makes a DUI problematic. To be convicted of the DUI, an alien must receive a formal judgment of guilt, been found guilty or have plead guilty, and the judge must have ordered a penalty as a result.
An experienced attorney may be able to cast doubt on this process or find weaknesses in the case which could assist you in pursuing immigration benefits despite a DUI. It is important to speak with a legal professional as soon after the incident as possible to ensure the situation is correctly addressed before critical evidence is lost.
Whether you are currently struggling with an immigration issue as a result of your record, or you have just been charged with a DUI as an alien, be sure to work with experienced immigration lawyers such as those at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge. We would be happy to assist you in overcoming the challenge of a DUI. Reach out to schedule a consultation today.