The new rules state that for any immigration medicals completed on or after May 1, 2024, a Polio booster (IPV) is required for all applicants aged 2 months and older, including all adults, unless proper documentation is provided of previous primary vaccination.

dui and immigration

Jun 03, 2024

Immigration Medical Exam

DUI and Immigration Medical Exam: What You Need to Know in 2024

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a severe offense that can have lasting consequences, especially for those going through the immigration process. As part of the immigration medical exam, applicants are required to disclose any past DUI convictions or related offenses.

This information is crucial for immigration officials to determine admissibility into the country. In some cases, a DUI conviction can lead to a temporary or permanent ban from entering the US. Understanding the effect of DUI on immigration status is essential for individuals looking to get a green card.

This blog discusses the impact of DUI convictions on your immigration status and how you can improve your chances of qualification.

How Is a DUI Viewed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)?

The USCIS considers alcoholism and alcohol use disorders (abuse or dependence) as a physical or mental condition.

Individuals with such conditions will be deemed inadmissible only if they display harmful behavior related to their condition that has endangered or is likely to jeopardize their safety, property, or well being, or that of others.

The green card application process entails a medical evaluation to assess any potential disorders, such as alcoholism and any related detrimental actions. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is indeed considered a harmful behavior.

Consequently, if you undergo evaluation and are determined to be an alcoholic or have an alcohol use disorder, the DUI offense, along with the disorder, may be considered a health-related reason for inadmissibility.

DUI and Green Card: Factors Affecting Your Qualification

Possible reasons for inadmissibility due to a DUI may involve having:

  • Convictions for one or more crimes of moral turpitude (CMTs, meaning an intentional crime that was vile, base, or contrary to community regulations).
  • Convictions of two or more crimes with at least five years of penalization.
  • A drug or alcohol addiction (which could lead to inadmissibility on medical grounds).
  • Committed a crime involving a controlled substance or even admitted to a controlled substance violation without a conviction.

A single DUI conviction, without any aggravating factors, typically does not align with the above criteria. Nevertheless, multiple DUIs or DUIs with aggravating factors may satisfy one or more of the conditions, making an individual inadmissible to the United States.

What Is the Doctor's Role in Assessing Your Medical History and Potential Substance Abuse?

During an interview for an immigration medical exam, applicants will be questioned about any past misuse of legal drugs, use of illegal drugs, alcohol abuse, and DUI arrests. The interview intends to uncover any history of harmful behavior, such as self-harm or violence towards others, DUI offenses, and criminal activities related to substance abuse. This may range from theft to engaging in prostitution.

Applicants with a positive history of alcohol or drug abuse will undergo a thorough inquiry regarding the frequency and intensity of their usage. In cases where the applicant has refrained from using, information regarding the date of their last use will be requested.

Possible Outcomes

The physician or civil surgeon will analyze the information collected from the interview, questionnaire, physical exam, and their clinical expertise to formulate a diagnosis. The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is utilized to assess whether a substance use disorder is active or in a state of remission.

Based on the assessments, they will declare either:

  • Class B (Medically Qualified): Typically, a disorder is deemed in remission if the last instance of abuse was a year ago, if there is no record of harmful behavior, or if the civil surgeon deems the likelihood of destructive behavior recurring to be low. So, the individual will be classified as Class B, and the application process can proceed. 
  • Class A (Medically Disqualified): Individuals identified as current or recent drug or alcohol addicts or abusers will be medically disqualified.

DUI and Immigration: Pathways to Qualification

You can follow these steps to improve your chances of green card qualification despite having two or more DUIs on your record:

  • Demonstrate Reformed Behavior

Complete any required alcohol education programs, maintain a clean driving record, and show that you have made positive changes in your lifestyle, including your record as a good employee, participation in your community or religious events, etc. These will help demonstrate your good moral character.

  • Seek Guidance from an Immigration Attorney

If you are confronted with DUI charges, consulting a criminal defense lawyer can provide valuable insights into your available legal options for successfully navigating the immigration process.

  • Prepare for the Medical Exam

If an applicant fails the medical examination due to substance abuse, they are typically offered a chance to undergo a reexamination at a later date. The applicant and civil surgeon can collaborate on developing a rehabilitation plan, which usually requires a year to complete and includes regular random testing for the specific (ingested) substance.

Struggling with DUI and Immigration Consequences? Contact Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD, for Assistance!

If you need an immigration medical exam but are concerned about a DUI on your record, consult with Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD. With his expertise in immigration medical examinations and understanding of the complex regulations surrounding DUI and immigration, he can provide you with the necessary guidance and support to navigate the process successfully. Contact us today to schedule your immigration medical exam.

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