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Will a basic traffic citation affect your immigration rights?

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2022 | Traffic Offenses |

There are thousands of immigrants living in Hawaii, many of whom would like to stay in the United States. Whether you currently have a visa or a green card, your goal may be citizenship or to live the rest of your life in the country.

Most immigrants understand that criminal convictions could prevent them from naturalizing or adjusting their status to become permanent residents. Serious offenses might even lead to someone’s removal from the country.

There is some degree of personal interpretation involved when evaluating the seriousness of a criminal offense to determine if it will affect someone’s immigration. In addition to specific rules, like limits on how long of a sentence an immigrant can serve and still remain in the country, there are interpretive rules as well. Do you have to worry about a traffic ticket affecting your eligibility for a green card or citizenship?

Traffic infractions could harm you in two ways

When you seek to adjust your status to get a green card or you apply for naturalization, you have to provide information to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about your criminal background.

If you fail to disclose traffic offenses on the necessary paperwork, those omissions could count against you when the USCIS makes a decision in your case. You will need to disclose even minor traffic violations with the requirements of certain immigration forms.

If you have numerous traffic citations, especially if you failed to pay them or compounded one citation by then driving on a suspended license, that could affect your case as well. The USCIS has denied immigration opportunities to individuals whose criminal background consisted solely of traffic infractions. Paying your tickets in a timely manner may help, but going to traffic court may be even more important.

A ticket doesn’t have to lead to a blemish on your record

Just because a police officer pulled you over doesn’t necessarily mean that you are guilty of a traffic violation. You have the opportunity to defend yourself in traffic court, and sometimes doing so is the best option.

For immigrants who want to remain in the country and who worry about having any offenses in their background, going to court to defend against traffic tickets could be the best choice given the circumstances. Understanding the impact traffic violations could have on your immigration rights may inspire you to prove your innocence in court.