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Can a DUI affect my immigration status?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Immigration

When an immigrant faces criminal charges, they naturally worry that a conviction or guilty plea could affect their chances of legally staying in the United States. Most immigrants living in the United States understand that criminal convictions can affect their options.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts background checks at every stage of the immigration process. Every renewal of an existing visa or green card and every change to someone’s status requires a thorough review of their criminal record. In some cases, criminal convictions could lead to someone’s removal from the country or a denial when they apply to adjust their status or renew a visa.

What crimes impact someone’s immigration status?

There are various types of offenses that can lead to removal from the country or other immigration consequences. Offenses of moral turpitude and crimes that lead to lengthy incarceration could affect someone’s status. Serious criminal offenses involving violence or drugs could have an immediate impact on someone’s immigration status.

A DUI does not automatically prevent someone from qualifying for a green card or a renewed visa. However, DUIs can sometimes affect someone’s options. Especially in cases where DUI led to injury to others or where someone has a prior offense on their record, a DUI conviction could lead to immigration challenges in the future. In certain cases, such as when people die, a DUI charge could very easily lead to deportation.

The penalties imposed by the courts could also influence the immigration consequences. It may be possible to assert that an impaired driving offense is indicative that someone does not meet the standard of having good moral character. Federal lawmakers have even taken steps to make it easier to leverage a DUI to limit someone’s immigration prospects.

An immigrant who has been accused of impaired driving has a lot at risk, especially if they decide to enter a guilty plea. Those who respond assertively to DUI charges may be in a better position to protect their immigration status. Learning more about the impact that criminal accusations can have on one’s rights can make a major difference for someone who has been recently arrested.