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The Possible Effects of a DUI Conviction on a Green Card Holder

If you are a green card holder and have been arrested for DUI, there are several factors that you have to learn and understand. 

If you are convicted of DUI, you may have to appear in court, serve jail time, and do community service. You won’t have complete freedom yet when you get out because ignition interlock installation is necessary to ensure that you won’t be driving under the influence again. Then you also have to consider that the law varies from one state to another. So, in one state, you may be required to serve jail time, while in another state, your license may be revoked.

The same thing goes for DUI laws. In some states, like California, a DUI can be a felony depending on the circumstances of the situation. In Florida, most DUI cases are misdemeanors and may only become a felony depending on several factors. If Driving Under the Influence becomes a felony, it may not lead to a removal proceeding, but it can have an impact on your status.

However, regardless of where you are in the United States, even a simple DUI will need the services of an immigration attorney. If you are a green card holder with a DUI case, the consequences may be more damaging, which is why you should get in touch with your lawyer right away. Additionally, it would be best to have a good understanding of what can happen and what you should do. 

What Can Happen If A Green Card Holder Is Arrested for DUI?

As mentioned above, the law varies from state to state, but general rules are enacted throughout the United States. Here are some of them: 

-If a green card holder has a current DUI conviction that can pass off as a felony, or if the DUI comes with additional charges, there are three possible scenarios that can happen: the application will be removed, denied, or delayed.

-The laws of inadmissibility determine whether an individual should be admitted or readmitted to the country or not. Under the inadmissibility section, DUI is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which is an intentional crime of a vile nature. A simple DUI is not recognized as a crime of moral turpitude and may not lead to inadmissibility for a green card holder, but prior convictions can affect the situation.

-Under the laws of deportability for DUI, a green card applicant may get deported if he has aggravated felony convictions. However, this is a broad category that includes other cases such as violent crimes.

-Your green card will not protect you legally if you are arrested or convicted of DUI. You can still get deported. 

-Green card holders are always under the scrutiny of the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). So, if they have a case, the authorities can easily spot it, and it may lead to removal proceedings.

Below are the Consequences of Driving Under the Influence for Green Card Holders:

  1. First DUI Offense – You won’t be asked for additional charges.

-This has no significant impact on you, the green cardholder.

-There are no deportation or removal proceedings.

However, if you are a green card holder who is nearing the 2-year (for conditional green cards) or 10-year renewal period, a lawyer is needed as there might be legal requirements such as convictions and charges updates. If the immigration authorities find out that there is a current conviction, you won’t get good moral character notes, which can affect your status.

  1. Second-3rd DUI offense – This is when removal proceedings are instituted. 

What to Do When You Are Arrested for DUI (And Are a Green Card Holder)

  1. Get in touch with your immigration lawyer the minute you are informed that you need to appear in court. If you do not have an attorney yet but already have a hearing date, be sure to appear in the first hearing (or the Master Calendar Hearing). You can then request for an attorney. 

If you do not show up for the first hearing, you will automatically get an order of removal, which means you will be ordered to leave the US and prohibited from returning to the country for several years.

  1. With the help of your immigration lawyer, you can dispute the allegations against you, or you can request for relief from removal. There are usually two options to choose from:

 – Voluntary Departure

This option will help you avoid removal. All you and your lawyer have to do is inform the authorities that you will leave the US on your own. However, keep in mind that you will not be permitted to enter the US again for several years if granted this option.

 – Removal cancellation for certain permanent residents 

Cancellation of removal is only possible if you qualify according to some requirements:

  1. If you have been a green card holder for five years
  2. If you have been residing in the US for more or less seven years before the DUI incident 

       happened. Your immigration status will not be a hindrance.

  1. If your DUI is not an aggravated felony.

The judge assigned to your case has the final say. If you have all the requirements, you have a good chance of being granted cancellation of removal. If you have other cases or convictions, the judge will have to determine if your positive points are greater than the negative ones. You will most likely get the judge’s favor if you fall under any of the following situations:

  1. If you have been living in the US since your childhood
  2. If you have important and strong family ties in the United States
  3. If it is proven that you are a valuable member of your community
  4. If you and your family will experience hardship in the event of a deportation
  5. If you have completed rehabilitation after the DUI arrest.

If the judge still rules against the removal, you and your legal team will have 30 days to appeal the decision.     

Knowing and understanding DUI green cardholder laws is vital. However, the best thing to do is still get in touch with your immigration lawyer and determine your legal options.