If you have been a legal permanent resident for five years, you may be thinking about applying for naturalization. After all, being a citizen of the U.S. has significant rights and responsibilities, including the opportunity to vote in elections and to sponsor family members for certain immigration benefits.
Before approving your citizenship application, an officer with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must consider whether you have good moral character. Unfortunately, a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol may be problematic.
Good moral character
Because there is no clear definition of what constitutes good moral character, USCIS officers often must look for evidence of bad moral character. A standard DUI arrest or conviction probably is not sufficient grounds to deny your citizenship application. Still, the officer who adjudicates it is likely to inquire about the offense.
The seriousness of your DUI offense
USCIS officers generally scrutinize serious DUI offenses more than less serious ones. Therefore, before applying for naturalization, you may want to ask the following questions about your DUI conviction:
- Do you have a single DUI conviction in your past or multiple ones?
- Did you have a high blood alcohol concentration at the time of your arrest?
- Did your DUI offense have aggravating factors?
- Was intent an element of your DUI offense?
If your DUI conviction reflects poorly on your moral character, you probably want to submit evidence that shows you are a good person.
Proof of strong ties to the community, meaningful family relationships, gainful employment and other evidence of good moral character may convince a USCIS adjudicator to approve your citizenship application despite your DUI conviction.