How Will a DUI Arrest Effect My Immigration Status?

The consequences of a DUI charge or conviction are already severe. But will a DUI charge cause immigration problems? Well, it depends. For undocumented immigrants, a DUI arrest could immediately commence immigration proceedings which could eventually lead to deportation. Your best bet is to get a lawyer immediately.

For those in the country legally, a DUI conviction alone cannot be grounds for deportation. The Immigration & Nationality Act (INA), which outlines rules for deporting immigrants, doesn’t list DUI as a deportable crime. DUI is also not listed as a reason to deny an immigrant a green card.

Still, it’s worth noting that if the DUI charge is combined with other criminal charges, the situation could escalate such that a conviction could directly affect your immigration status, and maybe even result in deportation. Moreover, DUI may count against you in some immigration applications, such as the naturalization process.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI and you’re not yet a U.S. citizen, you should consult a DUI defense attorney who can help establish the potential consequences the charges might have.

How Will a DUI Arrest Affect My Immigration Status?

To understand how a DUI arrest can affect your immigration status, you should consider your current immigration status in the U.S.

Existing Green Card

For most cases, a first offense DUI arrest with no extra aggravating charges such as manslaughter or hit-and-run, shouldn’t affect your green card significantly or detrimentally.

However, if you’re an undocumented immigrant and you end up receiving jail time, it’s likely that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) might try putting you on removal proceedings. Your application will request an update for any criminal charges, and a DUI arrest may affect the “good moral character” requirement.

If you’re close to your renewal period, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss how you could have the charges reduced, so that you minimize the likelihood of incurring any jail time.

Green Card Applications

If you’re looking to obtain a green card, one of the requirements is to answer several questions about your criminal history honestly. This includes any DUI convictions on your record. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides great discretion when it comes to immigration applications.

If a USCIS officer believes your DUI conviction demonstrates a lack of moral character, or if the DUI charge has aggravating factors such as reckless endangerment, they may deny your application. Moreover, having more than one DUI on your criminal record could be a solid reason to deny your application. In most cases, a simple DUI conviction with jail time could make you ineligible to obtain a green card or permanent residency in the U.S.

Undocumented Person

A DUI arrest is one of the ways the ICE can locate undocumented individuals and place them in removal proceedings, or if someone already has a removal order, detained for deportation. In Tennessee, ICE has used DUI arrests in the past as a tool to locate undocumented individuals.

Since the Trump administration, the chances of undocumented immigrants being discovered by ICE for minor offenses increased. Despite having no prior arrests or any serious criminal record, you could be discovered for smaller offenses like DUI.

If you are currently undocumented and you were arrested for DUI/DWI, it’s in your best interest to speak to an immigration lawyer to determine if you might have an immigration relief, along with your legal rights in case you were specifically targeted by the ICE.

Will a DUI Charge Make You Inadmissible?

A DUI conviction can make you inadmissible in the following ways:

  • Multiple criminal convictions – 2 or more DWI convictions with a total sentence of 5 or more years makes you inadmissible.
  • Drug trafficking – if you’re caught with a large quantity of drugs during the DUI investigation, you may be found inadmissible by the immigration officer.
  • Drug addiction or abuse – if a civil surgeon finds you to be a drug addict, it could make you inadmissible on medical grounds.
  • Crimes of moral turpitude – crimes involving moral turpitude will make you inadmissible.
  • Crimes involving controlled substances – if your DUI conviction involves intoxication by a controlled substance, you may be inadmissible.

What Happens to My DACA Status if I Get Arrested for DUI?

DUI offenses are considered significant misdemeanors for the purposes of DACA status. For this reason, if you’re convicted of a DUI, you may lose your status as a DACA recipient and potentially face deportation. Even if you’re convicted of a lesser charge, DACA is essentially a discretionary benefit, and how your case is handled will affect your DACA Eligibility

This is why DACA recipients are always advised to contact an immigration attorney when faced with an arrest. An immigration attorney will be experienced in mitigating both the immigration and criminal consequences of a DUI arrest.

Contact a DUI Defense Attorney Who Also Understands the Immigration Laws and Processes

Are you facing a DUI arrest in Nashville, TN? Contacting a qualified immigration lawyer is crucial. Every DUI case is different based on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. Without a thorough knowledge of DUI laws in Tennessee, you might not have a full picture of the impact a DUI arrest can have on your immigration status.

At Nash Law, our immigration attorneys have a track record of winning cases for both documented and undocumented immigrants facing criminal charges. We have helped countless immigrants avoid deportation.

We understand how serious a DUI arrest can be and why you might be worried about getting convicted. We’ll fight for your rights and build a strong defense on your behalf. Call us right away to get started on defending your American Dream!

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