Applying for U.S. citizenship is an exciting but stressful process. If you have a DUI conviction on your record, you may be concerned that it will stop you from completing your naturalization. Unfortunately, there’s not a cut and dry answer as to how it may impact the process.
It is important to note that every case is unique, and no article can cover every potential hiccup you might encounter during the process to become a U.S. citizen. If you’re facing a DUI charge, hiring the right DUI attorney is a great first step to minimizing the potential impact the charge comes with. If you’ve already received a DUI conviction, speaking with a DUI attorney can help determine how the unique facts of your charge will impact you during the nationalization process.
To contact a leading DUI attorney in the greater Los Angeles area, call our representatives at (310) 971-9045. We will help you schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys who have years of experience handling DUI cases just like yours.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen
In order to initiate the naturalization process, you must complete the N-400 application from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). As part of this application, you must indicate if you’ve committed any crime and describe the specific details of it. This includes reporting if you’ve received a DUI.
Even if you’re concerned about how a DUI might stop you from becoming a U.S. citizen, fill out the form truthfully. A DUI by itself isn’t an automatic disqualification, even if it’s problematic. However, lying about your prior convictions can make it impossible for you to complete the naturalization process.
How a DUI Might Impact the Application Process
Consider the application process to become a U.S. citizen as an evaluation of your moral character. The immigration officer in charge of your application is trying to see if you’re a good fit to remain permanently in the country. A DUI is going to be something that will affect how you’re evaluated.
However, the immigration officer is going to be concerned about certain crimes more than others. In particular, he or she will be focusing on crimes involving moral turpitude. These are crimes in which an individual either knowingly broke the law, damaged property, or put other people at risk of harm.
A DUI doesn’t necessarily meet the criteria to be considered a crime involving moral turpitude. The language of the relevant statute determines if your DUI conviction requires intent. In California, Vehicle Code 23152 does not require prosecutors to prove an intent to break the law in order to get a DUI conviction.
When a DUI Is More Likely to Stop You from Becoming a U.S. Citizen
You will begin to see more difficulties in the application process if your DUI was more than a “simple” incident. Several other factors can impact how your conviction will be viewed by the immigration officer. These aggravating factors can change how your DUI is evaluated and may result in your application getting denied.
The immigration officer is looking at your DUI is trying to see if you’ve committed a crime involving moral turpitude. He or she will be concerned if you knowingly broke the law beyond the DUI, if the DUI involved damaged to property, or if someone else was injured or put in danger during because of your drunk driving.
If you received the DUI without a license, either because you never received one or had it revoked, this will count as committing the offense with the intent to break the law. If you caused an accident while driving drunk, that property damage or bodily injury to another person will cause the DUI to rise to the level of a crime involving moral turpitude. Similarly, driving under the influence with a minor in your vehicle can stop you from becoming a U.S. citizen.
The amount of time that’s passed since you were convicted of a DUI can play a factor in how you are evaluated. More recent DUI offenses are less likely to be viewed favorably during the application process. Regardless of how long ago the crime was, still be upfront during the process about your DUI history.
Talk to a Lawyer for Free about Your DUI Charges
While there are guidelines that are followed, immigration officers have some discretion about how they interpret your DUI conviction. If you’re concerned about how your DUI might affect your chances of becoming a U.S. citizen, do not hesitate to reach out to a DUI attorney.
When you call (310) 971-9045 or use the form on this website, we help arrange a meeting with a leading DUI attorney to discuss your concerns. This free consultation can give you a good idea of how your DUI conviction might affect the naturalization process and could give you steps to improve your chances of getting U.S. citizenship. So, don’t hesitate to schedule your free appointment today!