D.U.I. Record & U.S. Citizenship Application
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is by far the most prevalent crime throughout America. In general, a DUI conviction does not automatically bar an applicant from acquiring U.S. citizenship. However, it is possible for the USCIS officer to deny the application on the basis of lack of good moral character. One of the basic requirements of becoming a U.S. citizen is that the applicant must be a person of “good moral character.” The USCIS Policy Manual on Citizenship & Naturalization states that “An applicant for naturalization must show that he or she has been, and continues to be, a person of good moral character.” Although there is not a straightforward definition of a “Good Moral Character,” any serious or minor criminal records such as a DUI could cast doubt on an applicant’s good moral character.
If you are applying for U.S. Citizenship with a DUI record, you must disclose the arrest, charge, conviction and the facts surrounding the crime on the form N-400, Application for Naturalization. If the DUI occurrence was within the past five (5) years, it is likely the application will result in a denial because USCIS requires that “the applicant must show GMC during the five-year period immediately preceding his or her application for naturalization and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance. Conduct prior to the five-year period may also impact whether the applicant meets the requirement.” (Chapter 9 Volume 12 of the USCIS Policy Manual). Therefore, there is a better chance of an approval if the DUI record was from more than five years ago. Nevertheless, USCIS officers have discretionary authority on each application and conduct prior to the five-year period may still impact the outcome of the case.
In addition to passage of time, the circumstances surrounding the crime can also affect the outcome of the application. If the DUI did not involve deaths or property damage and it was an isolated first offense, then it is more likely the officer may return a favorable decision. Evidence of rehabilitation such as completion of treatment programs and probation are also positive factors. It is important to provide certified arrest report, court disposition and probation documents for the USCIS officer to fully evaluate the facts of the case.
Applicants with a DUI record can also provide additional evidence to prove that they are good moral character. For example, proof of volunteer activities, active participation in church events and community activities are all helpful. Applicants can also request personal declarations from past employers or a priest to vouch for one’s good moral character.
In conclusion, applying U.S. citizenship with a DUI record is not an automatic bar. Factors such as passage of time, circumstances surrounding the crime and past criminal record may affect the outcome of the case. It’s important to consult with one of our experienced immigration attorneys for selecting and presenting the most helpful documentary proof to convince the USCIS officer.