Applying for citizenship in the United States can be a complicated process. The presence of a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) on your record can make the process more difficult. In fact, in some circumstances, a DUI can stop you from becoming a U.S. citizen.
However, DUIs will not always prevent you from achieving citizenship in the U.S. Find out more about how a DUI conviction can impact you here with the Simmrin Law Group. You can consider ways to minimize the repercussions of a DUI conviction and more with this article.
Regulations on Naturalization in the U.S.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency controls naturalization into the country. According to this agency, some crimes automatically disqualify you from citizenship in the U.S. These crimes include:
- Aggravated felonies
Other criminal actions may temporarily make you unable to obtain citizenship. All of the following acts can put a temporary stay on your immigration options:
- The operation of a criminal vice enterprise
- Participation in illegal vice activities
- Crimes of moral turpitude
- Crimes that led to at least 180 days of incarceration
- Crimes involving illicit drugs
Note that DUIs are not directly referenced in the above lists. However, DUIs can still impact your citizenship proceedings.
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DUI Charges and Applications for U.S. Citizenship
The USCIS does not specifically mention DUIs when discussing offenses that will result in the denial of your citizenship application. DUIs can still disqualify you in some circumstances. For example, if you were accused of harming someone else while driving under the influence, it could increase your charges to an aggravated felony.
Additionally, some DUI charges in California and around the country are tied to drug use. If you are arrested and convicted for a DUI involving drug use, it can automatically count against you as you attempt to achieve citizenship in the U.S.
U.S. Citizenship and Good Moral Character
Thus far, we have discussed criminal charges that can put a halt to U.S. citizenship proceedings. You should be aware that the USCIS also considers “moral character” when deciding to accept or reject a citizenship request.
Your application may be denied if the agency believes you do not have good moral character. A DUI conviction can count against you in this circumstance. The USCIS often reviews the last five years of your life in detail, so even a DUI that occurred several years ago can impact you.
Note that not all DUI charges are treated in the same way by the USCIS. You may be treated more leniently if:
- You were only convicted of only one DUI
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) was relatively low
- You did not cause an accident
- You did not harm anyone while driving under the influence
- You were not driving with anyone under the age of 18
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Demonstrating Good Character After a DUI Conviction
You may also be able to show that you have good moral character in other areas of your life if you have a DUI on your record. If you have sought treatment for alcohol use or performed community service it could help with your citizenship proceedings.
Note that, no matter what, it is important that you do not try to hide a conviction for a DUI. It is very likely that the USCIS would find out about the conviction anyway. You will face harsher penalties for attempting to conceal a conviction.
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Work to Resolve DUI Charges in California
You can improve your odds of successfully becoming a U.S. citizen if you get professional help resolving DUI charges in California. The team at the Simmrin Law Group can help you fight against a DUI accusation.
Our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles can investigate your case starting right now. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed, so they will not appear on your criminal record.
A professional DUI lawyer can also stand up for you in the court system. Securing a not-guilty verdict demonstrates your good moral character, which can help you when it comes time to apply for citizenship in the U.S.
Resolve DUI Charges and Focus on Your U.S. Citizenship
Depending upon your situation, a DUI conviction can stop you from becoming a U.S. citizen. Fortunately, you can get help handling DUI charges before they become a roadblock for your life. Speak to the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group now to get help. Our DUI lawyers in Los Angeles can offer you a FREE initial case evaluation.
Call (310) 896-2723 or complete our online contact form to get started.