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If I get a DUI will I lose my immigration status?

Drinking under the influence (DUI) is never something you want on your record. The legal consequences for a DUI conviction are more severe when you are a non U.S. citizen. Immigrants seeking a brighter future with more advanced opportunities in America may face deportation threats or a reduced immigration status.

What is important to understand is that illegal immigrants automatically are sent through the deportation process for any type of arrest. It is unnecessary for undocumented immigrants to await a conviction for the offense. For other types of immigrants (legal permanent residents and those with a student or work visa) the consequences may not always lead to deportation.

How DUIs are evaluated for immigrants

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) conduct evaluations based on whether the DUI counts as an aggravated felony or impacts your moral character. Consequences may also depend on where you are in the immigration process. For example, your application may be denied if you get a DUI while applying for naturalization or requesting a visa extension.

Aggravated felony charges often result in the most severe legal consequences for immigrants. The threat of deportation after having a DUI charged as a felony increases significantly.

Factors that could make a DUI considered a felony include:

  • Previous DUI conviction
  • Having children in the car
  • Driving while license is suspended or revoked
  • Causing serious accident with injury or death

DUI defense for Immigrants

As an immigrant, it is important to establish a clean history of good moral character. Naturalization interviews will be looking for evidence of such character. Despite a DUI charge, there is legal help and resources available to regain a stronger image of moral credibility. It helps to engage in rehabilitation programs, maintain a long and reliable work history and display significant amounts of time without prior criminal charges.

Each case and immigration status is different. It is important to receive sound legal counsel and advice on next-step actions after a DUI charge. Your future and those of your loved-ones are worth fighting charges that threaten your freedom and ability to live and work peacefully in America.

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    Houston, TX 77018

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