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Will my DUI affect my immigration status?

It is important to know the potential immigration consequences of a DUI.

A DUI conviction – especially multiple DUI convictions – can potentially impact whether you receive a visa for admission into the U.S., a discretionary grant of relief from removal or even naturalization. It is important to know the potential immigration consequences of a DUI.

Denial of Admission into the U.S.

The grounds for denying a visa or admission to the U.S. include anyone with:

  1. A substance abuse or addiction problem, or

  2. A physical or mental disorder resulting in harmful behavior

The U.S. government has determined that a DUI can serve as the basis for determining that a foreign national has a substance abuse problem or a mental disorder with associated harmful behavior. The Department of State will require that any visa applicant with a single alcohol-related arrest or conviction within the past five years, two or more alcohol-related arrests or convictions within the last ten years, or any “other evidence to suggest an alcohol problem” will be referred to a physician to determine if the visa applicant is inadmissable under either or both of the grounds mentioned above.

How Does a DUI Affect Discretionary Relief from Removal?

Although a DUI conviction is not a ground of removal, an immigration judge will consider it as a serious negative factor in exercising his or her discretion to grant or deny relief from removal. Also, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may detain foreign nationals placed in removal proceedings. To request a bond for release from detention, the foreign national must show that they do not pose a danger to others or their property. Immigration judges consider a DUI conviction – especially a recent one or multiple convictions – to be a serious negative factor in determining whether a bond applicant poses a danger.

How Does a DUI Affect Naturalization?

An applicant for naturalization must show good moral character for at least the five-year period precedin