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Will a Traffic Ticket Affect My Visa Status?

A fix-it ticket or simple traffic infraction should have no effect on your Visa status, if you explain the circumstances. However, a misdemeanor or felony conviction certainly could. With traffic tickets, it is more how you answer the question, "Have you ever been arrested, convicted...." If you were convicted of a violation that is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, it will likely show up on any government background check, so you should answer yes, and explain it completely. On the other hand, if you do not explain it and it comes up, immigration officials may ask themselves, if they lied about a traffic ticket, what else did they omit?

One of the conditions of entry to the United States is you must comply with the conditions of your Visa. Therefore, if you came to the U.S. on a work Visa and your traffic ticket leads to either a suspension of your driving privileges or a loss of employment, you could be subject to deportation or denied re-entry.

If you received a traffic ticket and returned to your home country without paying or clearing up that ticket, it could affect your status of re-entry. In California, if you were charged with a misdemeanor/felony or convicted of a misdemeanor, released on bail or bond, and you did not appear for trial, your failure to appear is a misdemeanor/felony and will likely result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. This could very well affect your efforts for re-entry.

What Are Misdemeanor/Felony Offenses in California?

Whenever a traffic ticket or violation results in injury or serious property damage or has a strong possibility of causing serious injury or significant property damage these are normally classified as misdemeanors or felonies with very serious consequences. To start with, if convicted you are convicted of a crime that will stay on your records for a number of years depending on the seriousness of the crime, possible jail time or probation, heavy fines, suspended driving privileges, and increased insurance premiums or denial of auto insurance.

Misdemeanor traffic violations in California include:

  • Evading a Law Enforcement (LE) official
  • Driving with a revoked or suspended license
  • Driving without a valid driver's license
  • Hit and Run that results in property damage, injury, or death (could be a felony)
  • Driving north on a southbound lane of a divided highway, or vice versa (could be a felony)
  • Reckless driving with property damage, injury, or death (could be a felony)
  • DUI of alcohol or drugs (could be a felony)
  • Possession of alcohol by anyone under 21 in your vehicle

This is not meant to be a complete list or to be set in stone, even when an LE officer charges you with one of these traffic violations the judge can reduce or increase the severity at their discretion.

However, if you were charged with one of these offenses and left the country without clearing the charges, it is most likely a misdemeanor/felony and you may be denied re-entry or you could be deported unless you clear it up.

Hire a Traffic Ticket Defender

Even if your ticket said mandatory court appearance required and you are in your homeland, you do not need to go to court if you hire a traffic ticket defender. Bigger & Harman can represent you in court without your presence. The first thing you should do is give them a call at 661-349-9300.

En español, llame al 661-349-9755.

Another course of action would be to send an email to their office, attorney@markbigger.com. Explain the circumstances of your ticket. When the office opens, they will send you a reply with their recommendation, how you should proceed, and how you can pay for their services.