Naturalization/US Citizenship for Immigrants and DUI

If you are an immigrant applying for US citizenship, a DUI could result in being denied.

If you are applying for US citizenship, a process known as naturalization, a DUI could result in having your application denied—but it won’t in all cases. This is because one of the naturalization requirements is that you must be of “good moral character,” but moral character isn’t defined anywhere in immigration law.

Here is how to approach the naturalization process if you have a DUI:

  • If you have not yet been convicted of the DUI, fight it. Get a good DUI lawyer and see if you can beat the charge or get it reduced to something less serious.
  • If you have already been convicted of DUI, see if you can get it expunged. An expunged DUI is not always held against you in the same way as a regular DUI conviction.
  • Be honest. When the application asks about criminal history, you should disclose your DUI. Trying to hide the DUI will likely get your application denied.
  • Show that you have good moral character. You are allowed to explain the circumstances of your DUI and how you have moved on. Mention anything that shows you are a good, law abiding person, such as volunteer work, being involved in your religious community, etc.
  • Remember that DUIs from more than five years ago are not viewed as seriously as recent crimes.

You can read more about DUI and immigration status here.

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