Traffic tickets can affect the outcome of your immigration case. When you get a ticket for a traffic violation, you need to include it on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Some tickets are more serious than others are, and some can even result in a denial of citizenship. If your N-400 was denied for a traffic ticket, or if you’re concerned that it will be, you should to talk to an immigration attorney about your situation.
Many people aren’t sure which tickets they have to report on the Form N-400 or whether the violations are severe enough to affect citizenship. These are some of the most common questions our firm gets about N-400s, speeding tickets and traffic violations.
Do I Need to Declare a Traffic Violation Ticket on the N-400?
If you received a ticket while you were driving, you should declare it on your Form N-400. Any moving violation – such as speeding, making an illegal U-turn or improper passing – belongs on your form. However, if your only tickets are for parking violations (like overstaying your welcome at a parking meter or parking in a “No Parking” zone), you don’t need to mention them.
Many people don’t realize that some traffic offenses are actually misdemeanors. Some misdemeanors include:
- Driving on a suspended or revoked license
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
You must report any of these traffic violations on your Form N-400. You do so by checking the box marked “Yes” on Question 16 in the Good Moral Character section. Specifically, the question asks, “Have you ever been arrested, cited or detained by any law enforcement officer (including USCIS or former INS and military officers) for any reason?” Many people choose to get an attorney’s help with Form N-400 because it’s very in-depth – and any mistake, even if honest can delay the application or even result in denial.
Can a Traffic Ticket Affect a Citizenship Application?
A traffic ticket can affect your citizenship application. Because you’re required to be honest on your Form N-400, you must report all the moving violations you’ve received (you don’t have to report parking tickets, though). Every case is different, so tickets on your record could affect your citizenship application – particularly if they’re crimes.
Does a Speeding Ticket Affect a Citizenship Application?
Minor issues, such as speeding, won’t necessarily lead to a denial of your petition. However, major issues – like reckless driving or driving under the influence – could affect your citizenship application. In cases such as these, you should to talk to a Norfolk immigration attorney to discuss your options.
Does USCIS Check Traffic Tickets?
You must report all crimes you were involved in to USCIS on your Form N-400, but some traffic violations aren’t crimes – they’re civil infractions, which don’t have criminal penalties. USCIS can absolutely check your driving record. If an Immigration Officer does check your record, he or she is most likely looking for more serious violations than speeding or failing to use a turn signal. It’s incredibly important to be honest on your N-400, because if an officer checks your records and discovers traffic tickets that you did not report, you will appear dishonest.
Can I Be Denied Citizenship Because of Speeding Tickets?
While every case is different, USCIS isn’t likely to deny you citizenship because you have speeding tickets in your past. However, you should pay all your fines and close out all your cases before you file your N-400 petition. If your speeding tickets are tied to criminal charges (such as DUI), the U.S. government can deny you citizenship. If you’re still on probation for a traffic ticket (like reckless driving or DUI) at the time of your interview, your N-400 application is most likely to get denied. If you lie on your application about having traffic violations, you could be denied for not having good moral character and not be able to apply for citizenship again for another five years.
Will Driving Points Affect Citizenship?
Driving points can affect your U.S. citizenship status, but generally, the points you receive on your license from standard moving violations – like speeding or making an illegal turn – aren’t severe enough for USCIS to deny you citizenship. Serious driving offenses that resulted in points, or worse, the loss of your license, are the ones that the government cares most about; those can include DUIs or reckless driving, as well as violations that resulted in someone getting hurt.
Are Traffic Infractions Criminal Offenses When it Comes to Citizenship?
If a traffic infraction is already a criminal offense, like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, reckless driving, or driving on a suspended or revoked license, it will count as a crime when you fill out and file your Form N-400. However, if a traffic offense isn’t a criminal offense (like speeding or making an illegal U-turn), it won’t suddenly become one when you file your Application for Naturalization.
Do Traffic Tickets Show Up on Background Checks for Immigration?
The U.S. government can check your driving record when you apply for citizenship. If you have traffic tickets, they will most likely show up during one of these checks – but when the government checks your record, it’s not looking for speeding tickets or tickets for a failure to come to a complete stop. It’s looking for more serious violations, such as drunk driving, driving on a suspended license and/or reckless driving.
What Are the Reasons to Be Denied U.S. Citizenship?
There are several reasons you could be denied U.S. citizenship, but generally, speeding tickets don’t disqualify you. The government could deny you citizenship if you have a criminal record within five years of applying for U.S. citizenship, though. Because some traffic infractions are actually criminal offenses (like driving while you’re on drugs or after you’ve been drinking, reckless driving, or driving on a suspended or revoked license), these types of violations could result in a denial of citizenship.
Does a Speeding Ticket Affect DACA?
Most speeding tickets do not affect your ability to participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. However, if you’re cited for something like reckless driving, it could affect your ability to participate in the program. The state/Commonwealth can charge you with the misdemeanor crime of reckless driving if you:
- Exceed the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour or more
- Exceed 80 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Speeding Tickets or Unpaid Traffic Tickets and Form N-400?
If you’ve been denied citizenship because of traffic violations, or if you’re concerned that your driving record will affect your application for naturalization, we may be able to help you. Call us at 757-464-9224 to schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney now.