DUI and Immigration

When someone holds a green card, they are likely worried about getting into any trouble with the law because it could affect their immigration status. While something as minor as a traffic ticket should pose no threat, if a judge convicts you of a DUI (or DWI), this will go on your criminal record as a misdemeanor or a felony. When the phrase “criminal record” comes up, you might not be sure how this affects your immigration. Especially if you need to leave the United States for anything (a vacation or a family reunion), you are likely worried that a DUI will prevent you from coming back into the United States. Below, you will find out more information on how a DUI or DWI affects your immigration status and what type of criminal record may prevent you from reentering the United States.

What Happens When a Green Card Holder Commits a Crime?

If a green card holder commits a crime, it will usually raise two questions:

  • Is this a crime where the United State government should deport the immigrant back to their home and out of the U.S.?
  • Is this a crime where the government can find the immigrant to be inadmissible? If this is the case, would the government deny the immigrant any type of re-entry into the U.S. if they took a trip that was at or over 180 days?

What Is Inadmissibility?

When you originally apply for a green card, the government accepts and approves it because they found the person applying to not be inadmissible. In certain circumstances, they may have been inadmissible but the government waived it. Therefore, when an immigrant who holds a green card reenters the U.S. after a trip, the government will see if you:

  • Were gone longer than 180 days.
  • Committed any type of crime while you were away from the U.S, or
  • Committed a crime while you were still in the U.S. before you left for your trip.

How Does a DUI Affect This?

In the case of a DUI, the government might have grounds for blocking your right to reenter if:

  • A judge convicted you of two or more crimes and they sentenced you to a minimum of five years.
  • A judge convicted you of a crime of moral turpitude. These are typically intentional crimes and are more vile or egregious than a crime like DUI or DWI.
  • You have admitted to being involved with controlled substances.

With the above examples, when you come back for reentry to the U.S., an officer at the border will take your fingerprints and run it through their government database. If one of the grounds for inadmissibility (as seen above) turns up, they could deny your reentry into the U.S. Thus, while a DUI alone will likely not be a problem up reentering the U.S., an additional crime (like above) could put you on the list for deportation.

Who Can I Talk With?

If a police officer recently gave you a DUI and you are concerned about deportation or reentry into the United States, please reach out to an immigration attorney, like an immigration appellate lawyer in DC from The Federal Practice Group, today.