Question:

I was recently arrested and convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol while driving home from a party in Los Angeles.  This is my first arrest and conviction. Does this DUI on my record ruin my chances of getting my U.S. citizenship? 

Answer: 

To become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you will have to show that you are a person of "good moral character", particularly in the last five years prior to filing for naturalization. The period is three years for a spouse of a U.S. citizen or one year for a person in the military.

Carmen Villamor DUI American Citizenship

A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol will definitely affect your chances of getting your citizenship.  A simple DUI is not an absolute bar but you will have to work hard to prove good moral character. For example, you can show membership in civil organizations, proof of volunteer activities, etc. Also you will need to explain the events surrounding your arrest and persuade the USCIS officer that drunk driving is not your typical behavior or that you have since taken steps to change your behavior. And even then, the USCIS officer can still find that you lack the "good moral character" required for U.S. citizenship. 

Another option is to wait five years (or three years or 1 year, depending on your legally required waiting period) to file for citizenship. If you have not committed any other crimes in the meantime, filed your taxes, and paid any required child support, you should be granted your U.S. citizenship then.

 

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