According to DOS Foreign Affairs Manual 403.11-5(B), DOS is authorized to “prudentially revoke” nonimmigrant visas such as H1B, F1, J1 and L1 visas on the basis of potential ineligibility for health related reasons when it is notified that a visa holder is subject to a “Watchlist Promote Hit” due to an arrest or conviction for a DUI or related offense.
1) DOS notified of DUI arrests.
Under the DHS Secure Communities Program, when a nonimmigrant is arrested for a DUI or other crime and booked by local law enforcement, their fingerprints are submitted to the FBI for criminal history and warrant checks. Data is also sent to ICE and the DOS is notified if the person is in the US on a nonimmigrant visa. This process now typically occurs quite rapidly.
2) Arrest triggers visa revocation.
Depending on the nature of the arrest, consular posts can choose to revoke the foreign national’s visa by simply sending a mailed letter or email with a notification similar to the following:
“Please be advised that your (F1, H-1B, L-1A) visa has been revoked by the US Department of State in accordance with the US Immigration and Nationality Act.
This action is based on the fact that subsequent to visa issuance, information has come to light indicating that you may be ineligible to receive a visa, such that you should be required to reappear before a US consular officer to establish your eligibility for a visa before being permitted to apply for entry to the United States.
Note that you will be unable to travel on your current US visa. If you would like to travel to the United States, you must re-apply for a new visa.”
It is important to note that DOS may revoke a visa simply on the basis of an arrest and determination of guilt is NOT required.
3) A revoked visa prevents reentering the US.
Once a foreign national’s visa is revoked, they cannot use the visa to enter the US without first reappearing before a US consular officer and re-establishing their visa eligibility. If a foreign national attempts to enter the US with a revoked visa, they will be flagged prior to boarding a flight, or denied entry into the US upon landing.
4) DOS requires physician review to consider reissuing visa.
DOS policy is to refer anyone with a single DUI arrest within the past 5 years, or two or more DUIs in the past 10 years, to a panel physician for evaluation. The prudential revocation policy serves as an extension of this practice, revoking a person’s visa if a DUI occurs after the visa is issued.
If the individual then leaves the US 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 for examination and certification.