Will a DUI affect my immigration status?

Green Cards and Naturalization

Applicants for Green Cards or for U.S. Citizenship who get charged with a DUI often worry about how it will affect their immigration status.  While outcomes will differ on a case to case basis, one thing is for certain, any immigration agencies who do check will find your DUI and it will  be considered a negative point in your file.  This matter could end up in immigration court and depending on the judge, may be grounds for revoking your green card and deporting you.


Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) outlines crimes for which a legal alien can be deported. The following classes of crimes in the context of a DUI could result in deportation:

  1. Convicted of a Crime of Moral Turpitude within 5 years of admission to the United States or within 10 years of being granted lawful permanent resident status.
  2. Multiple criminal convictions for Crimes of Moral Turpitude.
  3. Convicted of an Aggravated Felony
  4. A conviction of a crime involving controlled substances.

Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, a DUI offense may fall into one of these categories. It is important to recognize that the INA does not always define specific crimes as deportable and it is up to the whim of the immigration judge to decide if your DUI qualifies for deportation under these guidelines.

A DUI, depending on the details of the case, may also be grounds for deeming you inadmissible into the country. Section 212 of the INA defines the general classes of aliens ineligible for admission to the United States.

The guidelines for inadmissibility when it comes to a DUI offense include:

  1. A conviction for a Crime of Moral Turpitude
  2. Convictions for two or more criminal offenses where the aggregate sentences to confinement were 5 years or more.
  3. A drug abuser or addict
  4. A conviction for a crime involving controlled substances

Again, a DUI is not specifically defined as a crime that would bar admission into the United States, but the facts are subjective and your fate is determined by the immigration judge hearing your case. This should be an area of concern for anyone in this situation.  In light of recent crackdowns and tougher immigration standards, any criminal offense should be taken seriously.  If it has been your life long dream to become a U.S. citizen and you have been charged with a DUI, please call us now at 1-866-MCSHANE.  We offer a free case consultation.

VISA Holders

If you are in the United States on a Visa and you get arrested for a DUI, your visa may be revoked, even if you are never convicted of that DUI. The US Department of State has issued guidance to Consular Officers that upon discovery of a DUI arrest, the visa should be immediately revoked. A revocation of your visa does not mean that you must immediately leave the States. Your visa remains valid until the expiration of that visa provided you remain in the US. However, a revocation will invalidate any currently held visas for future travel, and should you need to travel abroad during the time you are in the States with that visa, you will have to reapply for a new visa before you will be granted reentry into the United States. As discussed above, a DUI conviction could be grounds to deny you reentry.

Illegal Immigrants

If you or a family member is an illegal immigrant who has been arrested for a DUI, get in contact with us immediately.  Any criminal offense that brings an illegal immigrant into the criminal justice system puts you on the radar of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and on a the fast track for deportation.

If you have an immigration issue and have been charged with a  DUI in Pennsylvania, please call us now at 1-866-MCSHANE.  We can help you find solutions and work with your immigration attorney to protect your status.  Don’t wait. Call now.

Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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