The holiday season is always full of parties and social events at restaurants, bars, and other friends’ homes. For non-citizens, it is a time to use extra care to avoid being arrested or charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) to preserve options for immigration benefits like residency, naturalization to become a U.S. citizen, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and others. Knudson & Associates encourages you to plan your ride home in advance with a designated driver who will not be drinking, or by planning to use a ride service like Uber, Lyft, taxi, or public transportation to get home.
DUIs (and other driving under the influence of alcohol-related offenses) are a negative discretionary factor for immigration when reviewing your eligibility for a particular benefit, like an application for a green card. Immigration agencies may decide to deny an application based on that criminal history.
A single DUI makes a DACA recipient ineligible for a renewal of that benefit, and may result in a revocation, meaning having your DACA taken away. Two DUIs may make you unable to show “good moral character” for certain benefits that require it, like applying to become a U.S. citizen (naturalization) or applying for Cancellation of Removal in immigration court.
We encourage everyone to hail a ride for the holidays. But non-citizens may suffer particularly harsh consequences from this type of mistake and need to be proactive in protecting their options and status in the U.S.
If you are non-citizen and are charged with a DUI or any other crime, make sure to speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney before pleading guilty to any offense (this includes for a deferred judgment even if ultimately dismissed). There may be immigration consequences associated with criminal convictions that are not intuitive. Knudson & Associates is here to help.