Nonimmigrant Visa Revocation Update for Those with DUI

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) implemented a policy on November 5, 2015 that requires consular officers to revoke the nonimmigrant visas of individuals arrested for, or convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or similar alcohol-related crimes. The DOS has since provided written guidance on this policy to clarify how it is to be implemented.

Background on Prudential Visa Revocations

As discussed in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Drunk Driving Arrests Result in Visa Revocations (16.Feb.2016), the consulate will revoke the visa, and attempt to provide notice of the revocation by eMail to any foreign national arrested or convicted of a DUI or a related offense. This applies to any such arrest or conviction that has occurred within the past five years, but only if said arrest or conviction occurred after the individual’s visa foil (commonly referred to as a visa “stamp”) was issued.

Updated Guidance from the DOS

As explained in the updated guidance from the DOS, “driving under the influence indicates a possible visa ineligibility … for a physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior that is likely to pose a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the applicant or others in the future.” For many years, DOS policy has been to refer anyone with a single drunk-driving arrest within the past five years, or two or more such arrests in the past ten years, to a panel physician for evaluation. The prudential revocation policy serves as an extension of this longstanding practice, revoking a person’s visa if a DUI occurs after the visa is issued. If the individual then leaves the U.S. and wishes to return, a new visa application will be required, at which point the consular post abroad typically will refer the applicant to a panel physician. Prudential revocation of a visa, however, should not ordinarily impact a person’s nonimmigrant status while in the United States.

Prudential Revocation of J-2 Dependent Visas

One particularly noteworthy provision in this DOS directive is that “if a J-1’s visa is revoked, the [DOS] will usually revoke any J-2 dependents’ visas as well.” It remains unclear as to why this only applies to J-2 dependents or whether this may eventually be extended to other classes of dependent family members.


Driving under the influence of alcohol is a crime that is taken seriously in the United States. These added immigration consequences for a foreign national make the penalties of a DUI all the more severe. With the widespread availability of taxi and ride-sharing services via one’s smartphone, avoiding a DUI has never been easier.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.