On October 25, 2019, the Attorney General, William Barr, rendered a decision in the case Matter of Castillo-Lopez,27 I&N Dec. 664 (A.G. 2019), in which he ruled that convictions of two or more DUIs during the statutory period for which good moral character was required, would result in a rebuttable presumption that the person lacked good moral character. Let?s break that down.

  1. What is a conviction for Driving Under the Influence?

According to the explanation in the Policy Manual, the term ?driving under the influence? includes all state and federal impaired-driving offenses, including ?driving while intoxicated,? ?operating under the influence,? and ?other offenses that make it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle while impaired.? These do not include offenses that don?t require proof that a person was impaired.

  1. What is a ?rebuttable presumption??

A rebuttable presumption is a presumption that may be overcome. An applicant will need to provide ?substantial relevant and credible contrary evidence? showing all of the positive things that they did during the statutory period, and that the DUI ?convictions were an aberration.? In its decision in Matter of Castillo-Lopez,the Attorney General said that ?an alien?s efforts to reform or rehabilitate himself after multiple DUI convictions are commendable, but they do not themselves demonstrate good moral character;? meaning that rehabilitation and reform, alone, are insufficient to overcome the presumption. Specifically, the AG stated that addressing one?s issues with substance abuse is insufficient to overcome the presumption.

In addition to showing ?credible contrary evidence, ? applicants can actively try to improve their good moral character in other ways.

  1. When does ?good moral character? matter?

Good Moral Character matters for the following application types: naturalization, cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents, T-Visa adjustments, and applications under the Violence Against Women Act.

  1. What is the ?statutory period??

Naturalization: For naturalization,the statutory period is five years, three years for spouses of United States citizens, and one year for certain members of the military.

Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents: The statutory period for cancellation of removal is ten years.

T-Visa Adjustments: The statutory period for T-visa adjustments is the time since the applicant was admitted to T status.

Applicants for VAWA: The statutory period for VAWA applicants is three years.

These policies apply to any case that was filed or pending on or after October 25, 2019.

If you have been convicted of a DUI and would like information about good moral character, naturalization, or eligibility for cancellation of removal, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in complex good moral character cases. Please feel free to call us at 510-574-7377 to see how we can help!