The State Department Is Revoking Visas for DUI

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State Department confirms that DUIs may now bar nonimmigrant visa eligibility

The US State Department confirmed in an April 7, 2016 liaison meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association that it began directing consular officers to revoke nonimmigrant visas of persons arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  A nonimmigrant visa is any visa permitting entry to the United States for a temporary period.  Nonimmigrant visas include those for H-1B work, L-1 multinational, E investor, B-1 business, B-2 tourist, F-1 student, J-1 cultural or business exchange visitor, and many others.
 
The State Department reportedly sent e-mails with widely varying instructions to foreign nationals inside of the United States.  Some of these e-mails may have told nonimmigrant visa holders to depart the United States.  The State Department does not have the authority to order foreign nationals to depart the United States.  Only US Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement can do that.  The State Department only has authority over whether to issue a visa and also whether to revoke it.  Once inside of the United States, a foreign national does not require a valid, unexpired visa to maintain valid nonimmigrant status.  A nonimmigrant inside of the United States who receives a visa revocation notice from the State Department should avoid travel abroad because if the State Department will not issue a new visa, the foreign national will not be able to reenter the United States after travel abroad.
 
Consular officers now refer all nonimmigrant visa applicants with one alcohol-related arrest in the last five years, or two or more alcohol-related arrests in the last 10 years to a USCIS-approved civil surgeon for a medical examination to determine whether the foreign national suffers from alcoholism.
 
A foreign national nonimmigrant who receives a visa revocation notice, or has a DUI arrest or conviction, should be prepared to reapply for a nonimmigrant visa before reentering the United States and also to prove rehabilitation.  The best strategy, however, is simply to avoid travel outside of the United States until five years after a single DUI conviction or 10 years after two or more DUI convictions.
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