When it comes to DWI (39:4-50) in NJ, many people-including attorneys-often overlook the ramifications of a DWI on admissibility. Clients are often so concerned about deportability that they or their counselors may neglect to explore the impact of a Drunk Driving conviction on admissibility-which comes into play whenever a non-US citizen wishes to enter the United States or when an individual applies for permanent residence, either through the consular process or alternatively, adjustment of status.
Besides considering whether a DWI is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude, some thought should also go into considering whether the DWI is evidence of a physical or mental disorder, which is a separate and independent ground of inadmissibility. This ground is applicable to any alien determined to 1) have a current physical or mental disorder and behavior associated with the disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, and welfare of the person or others or 2)have had such disorder and associated behavior in the past and it is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior.
This ground potentially affects:
- Applicants applying for adjustment of status in the US
- Applicants applying for an immigrant visa abroad
- Applicants applying for a non-immigrant visa abroad
The issue normally arises either during a required medical examination by a panel physician abroad or a civil surgeon here in the US. In the case of non-immigrant visas, medical exams are normally not required. However, if a consular officer has reason to believe that an applicant may be inadmissible due to a health or medical disorder, he or she can refer the applicant to a panel physician for evaluation. Since the non-immigrant visa application inquires into any previous arrests or charges, a DWI charge will ordinarily come to the officer's attention.
If you have been charged with or convicted of a DWI in NJ, it is critical to consult with experienced immigration counsel. While internet forums and blogs may be a great source of information, they are simply not a substitute for legal advice that is specifically tailored to your situation. For more information on the potential impact of DWI arrest or conviction on your green card or visa application, please contact our office.
Remember that the foregoing is not legal advice nor intended to substitute for such. It does not create an attorney-client relationship nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for specific legal advice.