There is no question that a conviction for driving while intoxicated can have major consequences for anyone. Spending the night in jail and losing the right to drive temporarily are major setbacks, but they are only part of the problem for a person that is arrested under suspicion of driving while intoxicated during the process of immigrating to the United States.
Applying for and receiving a green card is a long, drawn-out process. The agents involved in making the decision to accept or reject applicants have significant amounts of leeway in their decision making, which makes it crucial to limit potential legal hurdles as much as possible. A conviction for a DWI could quickly upend your chances for success. If you are facing a DWI charge in Houston, discuss your case with attorney Doug Murphy before these charges impact your immigration status.
How a DWI can Impact Immigration
A conviction for DWI will not automatically result in the denial of a green card application or the initiation of deportation proceedings. However, there are many situations where a DWI conviction could be the factor that tips the scale against you.
Students and workers in the United States on F-1 student visas or H-1B temporary work visas are particularly vulnerable when they run afoul of the law. Since 2015, the State Department has advised consular officers that they may “prudentially revoke” a visa. This does not mean you are at risk of immediate deportation, and you have the right to a hearing. But a prudential revocation will prevent you from re-entering the country should you leave.
Green Card Applications
The application for a green card – commonly referred to as I-485 due to the name of the form used – can be stopped dead in its tracks due to a DWI conviction. The officers that reject or accept these applications are granted significant leeway, and a criminal conviction is grounds enough for a denial.
Good Character and Good Health
With temporary visas and the green card process alike, your health could come into play. In both cases, you could be required to submit to a doctor's panel to determine if you are a “habitual drunkard” or have a significant issue with alcohol abuse. A DWI conviction is only one factor considered when determining whether your issues with alcohol should result in the denial of your application.
Contact a Houston DWI Defense Lawyer Right Away
Because of the subjective nature of the immigration process, it is important to have a strong argument in your favor should you face an arrest. While in some cases even an arrest for DWI could be used against you, beating the charges and prevailing at your criminal trial could also work in your favor.
A DWI arrest should not guarantee your chances of becoming a resident are over. However, avoiding a conviction could help you more than anything else. By working with a skilled Houston DWI defense lawyer, you might be able to beat the charges against you. To discuss your legal options, reach out to the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away.