Getting good sleep can be difficult for some, with stress and careers, and as such, self-medication through alcohol is a common home remedy. But what happens when your self-medicating for sleep problems lands you with a DUI? How does this impact your immigration application?
How DUIs can impact your immigration application is really contingent upon whether you were just arrested or convicted of a DUI, and if the latter, the events of your DUI conviction. A good immigration lawyer can review your case and provide a consultation.
Immigration law US based stipulates that your current immigration status will play the preliminary role in the impact of a DUI.
- Firstly, if you are an undocumented immigrant, and you get convicted of a DUI, you might be deported or have a mark on your record for any immigration applications you file with an Immigration lawyer in the future.
- Secondly, if you already have a green card but you are up for renewal, having a single conviction may not get your renewal denied, but having a second conviction can.
- Thirdly, if you are working with an immigration attorney to apply for a green card or permanent status as a citizen, and then get convicted, it might result in a change to your immigration proceedings or a denial of your application.
The biggest issue in this area of immigration law has to do with whether you were arrested or convicted. Being arrested for a crime including a DUI is not in and of itself enough to trigger what is called a review of your moral character as part of your immigration application.
Arrest is the first step in criminal proceedings but it does not mean that you are actually guilty of a crime. Being arrested for a DUI just means that you are suspected of a crime.
Conviction means that you are guilty of that crime and you were convicted of it by a court of law. For this you will likely receive punishment in the form of fines and jail time, and it can affect your immigration application.
As mentioned, one of the most important parts to your immigration application according to the U.S Citizen and Immigration Services is having ‘good moral character’. When you submit an immigration application you have to prove that you have been a good person with good morals for at least 5 years. You are expected to retain that good moral character and remain a good person at least until the time that you provide an oath of allegiance to the United States. The federal government evaluates good moral character on a case-by-case basis. There are a few areas of criminal conduct which can automatically violate this component and result in a denial of your application:
- Being convicted of two or more of the same offenses within a 5 year period
- Being convicted of a crime that directly involves moral behavior like murder, sexual abuse, drug trafficking, or illegal trafficking of weapons,
- Incarceration after being convicted of a crime for 180 days or longer
Being convicted of any crime, even if you enter a plea deal with the government, will likely mean that your immigration application will get reviewed to make sure that you still fall under the good moral character requirement.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services provided a new policy in 2019 with regard to DUIs and how they impact immigration status.
In the case of Castillo-Perez, the U.S. Justice Department determined that anyone who is convicted of a crime like a DUI which violates good moral character two or more times within 5 years will need to have their immigration application or renewal reviewed individually and runs the risk of that application being automatically denied.
Every situation will be different. A DUI arrest or a conviction is a serious matter but with the help of a good immigration attorney doesn’t necessarily have to result in a denial of your immigration status or a revocation and deportation. What is most important in any DUI situation is understanding the role that good moral character plays. If you were recently arrested for a DUI or convicted of a DUI, it is important that you consider speaking with an attorney who can go over the different aspects of your case and prepare you for how that could impact your immigration application.