D.U.I. Records and U.S. Citizenship Application

Drunk driving is the act of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol so that mental and motor skills are compromised. This criminal offense is usually called driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). In general, a DUI conviction does not automatically bar an applicant from acquiring U.S. citizenship. However, USCIS denies many naturalization applications in this area based on a 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 & Naturaliza “An applicant for naturalization must tion states thatshow that he or she has been, and continues to be, a person of good moral character.” Although there is no straightforward definition of a “Good Moral Character,” any serious or minor criminal record 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 the 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, the chance of approval increases if the DUI occurred more than five years ago. Nevertheless, USCIS officers have discretionary authority on each individual application, and may or may not include conduct prior to the five-year period.

In addition to the passage of time, circumstances surrounding the crime can also affect the outcome of the application. If the DUI did not involve injury, death or property damage and 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 good moral character. For example, proof of volunteer activities, active participation in church events and community activities are helpful. Applicants can also request personal declarations from past employers, community members or clergy to help establish good moral character.

Applying for 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 an experienced U.S. immigration attorney for selecting and presenting the most helpful documentary evidence to satisfy USCIS.

Susu D'Andrea is a California licensed U.S. immigration attorney who practices exclusively in the area of immigration and naturalization law and is an associate at D’Andrea Law Corporation. Offices are located in Glendora (510 S. Grand Ave., Suite 203, Glendora, CA 91741) and Pasadena (1055 E. Colorado Blvd, Suite 500, Pasadena, CA 91106). Contact the firm for a free consultation. Tel: (626) 852-8600, Chinese: (626) 852-9838. Email: info@DandreaLaw.com. Website: www.DandreaLaw.com.