A New Nonimmigrant Visa Revocation Policy is creating significant concerns and potential problems for nonimmigrants lawfully present in the United States. On November 5, 2015 the U.S. Department of State Visa Office notified consular officers to begin prudential revocation nonimmigrant visas previously issued to individuals who have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Why? Because a DUI is indicative of possible visa ineligibility under INA 212(a)(1)(A)(iii) due to physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior. Conviction is NOT required! REALLY?!? Aren't you innocent until proven guilty? Nope! Not in the never, never land of 212(a)(1)(A)(iii). Wow!
Consular officers have long referred nonimmigrant visa applicants with a single alcohol related arrest within the past five years to a panel physician for medical examination to rule out medical ineligibility. Under this regime, consequences of a DUI arrest were felt only DURING nonimmigrant visa application - not AFTER visa issuance. This changed November 5, 2015. Now consular officers are to revoke visas previously issued to individuals who have a DUI arrest within the preceding five years.
Upon nonimmigrant visa revocation, consular officers mail notification letters to the individual's home address listed on their visa application. As a result, the individual may not receive the notice. Also, the revocation notices are not standard and their language varies widely. Some suggest that the individual must depart the U.S. immediately (not true). Others explain that the visa is no longer valid for future travel to the U.S.
Sadly, this results in heartbreak situations. An individual, who receives a revocation notice implying that they must depart from the U.S. immediately (incorrect advice), may actually depart only to find they cannot obtain a new visa or reenter the U.S. for several years. Perhaps even worse, an individual who did not receive a revocation notice may innocently depart and attempt to reenter using a visa that appears valid on its face, only to find that the visa has been revoked and they are not permitted to reenter the U.S.
The Department of State claims to take drunk driving and similar arrests seriously. In their view, such arrests indicate both a public safety issue and evidence of possible visa ineligibility under 212(a)(1). Yet, a simple DUI arrest would not make an individual in the U.S. deportable and it would not keep that individual from adjusting their status to that of lawful permanent resident (green card).
At Miley & Brown, P.C., we want to keep our client's appraised of changes such as this that could seriously impact their lives or that of loved ones. We can all help. Visit Miley & Brown at http://www.mileybrown.com where you can contact Congress to tell them what you think. Every voice matters.