In a recent post, I discussed how you qualify for Deferred Action and what you receive if you qualify. Before you apply you must be 100% certain that you qualify. That analysis also requires a thorough understanding of any disqualifiers, such as a significant misdemeanor.Let’s start with an example. Ernesto, twenty-six, came to the U.S. when he was five. He meets all of the eligibility required for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals except one. When he was 20, Ernesto was charged with a DUI. He had some alcohol, was under age, and was driving, so he was found guilty of N.J.S. 39:4-50.14 a baby DUI. Under the Deferred Action initiative, if you have been convicted of a single significant misdemeanor you are ineligible. The term significant misdemeanor is not found in immigration statutes, regulations or case law, nor is there reference to any of the crimes mentioned under those terms. It is a new term to this program. Because Deferred Action is only temporary, the standard is lower and broader than when applying for a permanent status. A significant misdemeanor is, regardless of the sentence imposed, an offense of:

  • domestic violence;
  • sexual abuse or exploitation;
  • burglary;
  • unlawful possession or use of a firearm;
  • drug distribution or trafficking (not drug possession); or,
  • driving under the influence.

If the offense is not listed above, you may still be disqualified if you were sentenced to time in custody of more than 90 days but less than one year.Your jail time does not include either a suspended sentence or the time held due to an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainer. Historically, a single DUI conviction doesn’t carry immigration consequences. However, for this program, DHS says that a single DUI is a significant misdemeanor. But, what about Ernesto does his Baby DUI qualify as a significant misdemeanor? For this offense New Jersey will punish a driver who is under 21 years of age and has had any alcohol. This zero tolerance law is not about public safety per se, but to prevent persons from drinking and driving as adults. This is where a good attorney comes in. You must argue that if no distinction is made between a Baby DUI and a regular DUI, for purposes of Deferred Action young drivers the very population this policy is meant to help will negatively and disparately impacted. Cases like Ernesto’s highlight why you should always challenge any DUI charge. If you want more information regarding DUI’s you can request a free copy of my book The Truth about Your DUI. You can also watch my video series Immigration Consequences of DUI on my YouTube Channel. If you are ready to speak to our knowledgeable staff call 888-695-6169, use the live chat feature on this page, or use the contact form to get started. We help immigrants, one petition at a time.