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Too Many Traffic Tickets!

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I got a lot of tickets. Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, California, and Washington, DC. In this video, we're going to talk about traffic tickets, about citations. So, anybody who has studied the I-45 application for removal of conditions, I'm sorry, application for lawful permanent residence or for their citizenship, their N-400, they know that USCIS asks, "Have you ever been cited? Have you ever received a citation, a summons? Have you ever been asked to come to court to respond to anything?" And that includes traffic matters. So, don't exclude your traffic matters when asked about citations.

And the question that we want to explore in today's video is, "How many tickets are too much?" We have a lot of people that come to us and say, "Mr. Jim, I have a lot of tickets." And I say, "How many tickets do you have?" And they say, "Oh, I don't know, 10 or 12." "10 or 12, what, in the last 20, 30 years?" "No, 10 or 12 in the last three years." This is a problem, my friends. Now, when you apply for a green card, the question is whether or not you're admissible. When you apply for citizenship, the question is whether you have demonstrated good moral character. And I think, actually, strange as it sounds, traffic tickets can be more important in citizenship cases than green card cases.

For the most part, unless you have serious traffic matters, like a DUI, which I wouldn't even consider a traffic matter. I consider that a criminal matter. But if you have serious traffic problems like DUI or involuntary vehicular manslaughter, or something really serious, that could keep you from getting your green card. Most likely not though. Most likely you're going to get your green card, no matter how many tickets you have. But if you're applying for citizenship, and if USCIS concludes that you are not obeying the traffic laws, you're not obeying the laws of the land where you live, that you might not be a good person of good moral character, who they want to allow to get their citizenship. So, I think a good rule of thumb is about one a year. If you're getting more than one a year, I think you're probably going to be in a little bit of trouble when it comes to applying for citizenship. So, let's see how that would work.

So, let's say you apply for citizenship and you have your interview on October 1, 2021. And they say, "Well, how many tickets do you have?" And you've received one every year for the last five years. That's one a year. I think they might start thinking to themselves, "Boy, could I deny this case?" Because, remember, they're always looking for a way to deny a case. And we've seen some crazy denials based on traffic. I've even had a doctor. I had a doctor once who, he was an emergency room doctor, and he worked at several hospitals. So he would literally drive like a bat out of hell to get to the emergency room to operate on a patient or to help save someone's life. And he did not have a habit of parking correctly. Now, I wouldn't list parking tickets as a citation. I don't think those are the kinds of citations that they're talking about. I believe the parking tickets travel with the vehicle, not with the individual.

But in any event, this fellow, he didn't have a lawyer, and he had listed all of his parking tickets. And he had like 30 parking tickets, all for parking where he wasn't supposed to or parking for too long where he wasn't supposed to. And he got denied for that. But for the most part, we're seeing these denials for traffic matters. I have a guy who had one speeding ticket and they denied him as citizenship. We appealed that and we're getting ready to have his hearing here in a couple of weeks. It's total BS. But depending on the immigration officer, you might get a lot of pushback on becoming a citizen if you have too many tickets.

So, I think, if you have more than one a year, you need to think seriously about trying to get those amended. I mean, you're still going to have to list them as citations, but you want to make sure that you're not just pleading guilty and taking the points you. You might want to clean that up, or you probably just really have to wait to apply for your citizenship. I think that if you have a long history of getting a lot of traffic, I think you need to maybe think about getting the whole five years statutory period clean before you apply again. So traffic tickets can be a problem. I don't think it's fair, but they do deny cases of citizenship for that.

So, if you have questions, or if you think you might have too many tickets, give us a call, 314-961-8200, emails us at [email protected] or [email protected]. And we have our Facebook group. It's called Immigrant Home. We'd love to have you join us there. And then, don't forget, we have our YouTube channel. You can subscribe to it. You get an update whenever we shoot a new video, which is every single day. And then, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually at noon Central, you'll find me live in our Facebook group and on the YouTube channel, answering as many of your immigration law-related questions as possible. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.


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