International F1 Visa Student Criminal Defense, DUI Lawyer

If you are an international F1 visa student facing investigation, DUI or criminal charges, it could have a major impact on your ability to remain in the US as a student.

International students are held to a higher standards than US citizens. For example, while marijuana use is legal for US citizens under California law, it is illegal for international students under Federal law. Even a minor crime or DUI first offense and student visas can be revoked which means you would be denied entry into the US.


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Arrests cause F1 visa revocation

US Department of State policy authorizes consular officers to automatically revoke F1 visas for arrests for DUI and crimes. Depending on the arrest, consular posts can choose to revoke student visas by simply sending a mailed letter or email.

It is not uncommon for students to not even know their F1 visa has been revoked until they are refused reentry into the US at the airport after traveling abroad. Many F1 students get stuck in limbo outside the US before even being able to resolve a criminal charge.

If you are an arrested F1 student, it is critical to consult a criminal immigration lawyer to advise you as soon as possible.

The intersection between immigration law and criminal law is one of the most complex areas of US law. Chudnovsky Law is recognized as a premier student criminal defense lawyer and expert in DUI for international students.

Our experienced immigration and Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of successfully handling thousands of cases including international F1 student visa DUI, misdemeanor shoplifting, felony and Federal crimes.

Our #1 goal is to get your case dismissed or reduced

An F1 visa DUI or criminal charge does not have to mean you will be convicted or deported. Our student visa lawyers know how to skillfully defend your rights and protect your ability to complete your education in the United States.

RELATED: Chinese F1/J1 Visa Revocation/Ban Explained (June 2020)

International F1 Visa Student Criminal Immigration Attorney

International F1 Visa Student Arrest Consequences

When an international student is arrested and fingerprinted, law enforcement agencies now quickly submit that info to national crime databases under the DHS Secure Communities Program.

There are also activities that can get a student placed on the terrorist watchlist system as outlined in the National Counterterrorism Center’s Watchlisting Guidance.

F1 Visa Revoked

The Department of State (DOS) consulate that issued the visa is notified when their F1 visa holder is subject to a “Watchlist Promote Hit” due to an arrest. Usually this triggers an automatic F1 visa revocation, although the issuing consulate has sole discretion.

Once an international student’s visa is revoked, they may not use the visa to enter the US without first reappearing before a US consular officer to re-establish their visa eligibility.

Other Arrest Consequences

While international student arrests are usually for minor misdemeanors such as DUI drunk driving, petty theft or recreational drug possession, the consequences are much more complicated than for US citizens:

  1. You usually must stay in the US until your case is resolved. This means you will be unable to visit friends or family outside the US until your case is completed.
  2. Your F1 visa is revoked even if you are innocent and before you have a chance to defend yourself. Even when we are able to get charges dismissed and you are found innocent, you will still have to go through the hassle and expense of regaining your F1 visa status. Reinstatement of F1 visas requires reappearing before a US consular officer in your country and re-establishing visa eligibility.
  3. You must disclose your arrest record if you wish to re-enter or remain in the US when you apply for renewal of your visa or a green card. This applies even if your case is ultimately dismissed.
  4. You may be found to be inadmissible to re-enter or remain in the US if you are convicted of certain deportable crimes, including most drug crimes and other crimes involving moral turpitude.
  5. You may be placed into removal proceedings before an immigration court and become an international student deported.
  6. You may also be subject to mandatory detention in a holding facility while your trial before the immigration court is pending in some instances, particularly when certain drug offenses are involved.

Given the severe consequences international students face, it is critical to consult an Orange County criminal defense attorney that is also an expert in U.S. immigration laws and F-1 reinstatement.

F1 reinstatement to student status

If your F1 visa has been revoked, there are two paths for regaining F-1 status:

  1. Apply for F1 reinstatement to student visa status, or
  2. Depart the US, apply for a new F1 visa and reenter.

The process to regain valid F-1 status can be challenging and there are a variety of complicated criteria and rules.

Option 1: Reinstating F1 Status

F1 reinstatement is generally available to international students who have fallen out of status due to some violation that is beyond their control.

Your school’s international student advisor’s office can assist you with evaluating whether this option is suitable for you and completing a USCIS reinstatement request.

Eligible students:

  • Have been out of status for less than 5 months when filing the request.
  • Pursuing or intend to pursue a full course of study in the immediate future at the program or school that issued the Form I-20.
  • Do not have a record of willful or repetitive violations of immigrations law.
  • Have not worked in unauthorized employment.
  • Are not deportable for any reason other than they overstayed or failed to maintain student status.
  • Be able to remain in the Unites States while the USCIS application is pending (typically 4-6 months)

Eligible students must also show that their violation of status was outside their control. Example reasons that increase your F1 reinstatement chances include:

  • Serious illness or physical injury
  • Natural disasters and events
  • Neglect or errors made by your international student advisor

Note that revocation due to an arrest is usually not eligible for reinstatement request.

Option 2: Leave the US and Reenter

Under this option you would depart the US, apply for a new F-1 and re-enter. This is the option typically used if your F1 visa has been revoked due to an arrest.

It is critical to consult a student visa lawyer to ensure this is handled properly. You should resolve any criminal charges BEFORE leaving the US.

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F1 Student Criminal DUI Defense Attorneys

What to do if you’re arrested or under investigation?

If you are facing DUI, criminal charges or an investigation, be very careful. Your freedom, future and ability to study in or even travel to the US may be at risk.

Interacting with the US legal system can be intimidating and is full of potential traps, especially for international students. You should hire a criminal immigration lawyer experienced with international student defense. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Do not make statements to police without your lawyer present. Anything you say can and will be used against you, even if you don’t understand English legal jargon well and get confused or tricked with a line of questioning. You have the right to legal counsel. If you invoke your right to counsel, police must stop questioning, and not resume interrogation until your Los Angeles misdemeanor lawyer is present.
  2. Do not speak with anyone about your case in or out of jail. One of the most common ways people get themselves in trouble is by talking about their case to others. Anything you say, text or post can be used against you.
  3. Do not agree to any search of your home or vehicle without a search warrant. If law enforcement wants to enter your property to look for evidence, they generally have to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to do so.
  4. Do not appear in court by yourself or sign anything without consulting a criminal defense lawyer. No matter how smart you are, the US criminal justice system makes it nearly impossible to competently represent yourself. Only specialists who are experienced in the system, rules of evidence and assessing all the factors that come up can provide the representation needed to ensure fair justice is done.
  5. Do not assume your case is hopeless or be intimidated by a prosecutor into pleading guilty. There are many legal defenses to criminal charges and you should never underestimate the ability of a skilled criminal defense attorney to successfully fight a case or negotiate a better plea deal and outcome.

Criminal law is very complex and its interpretation and practice can vary dramatically by court, prosecutor and the specific circumstances of each unique case. There are many potential defense strategies and countless ways that police and investigators can make mistakes that a skilled Long Beach criminal attorney can use to justify dismissal or reduced charges.

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Chudnovsky Law legal services in other languages

Our lawyers provide service in Español, Français, Italian, Portuguese, Hebrew and Amharic:

Avocat Pénaliste

Abogados Penalistas

Avocat DUI – Alcool au Volant

Abogados de DUI Los Angeles

Abogados de Violéncia Domestica

Best F1 Visa Student Criminal Defense Attorneys

International Student Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been arrested for any criminal offense, the immigration and criminal defence lawyers at Chudnovsky Law can help. We are skilled in fighting criminal charges of all kinds and managing the immigration consequences.

Our attorneys have had great success in the courtroom, successfully handling over 8,000 cases. Our student offense attorney is ready to defend you aggressively to achieve the best possible outcome to your case.

Criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles and Orange County

Our legal team understands that criminal charges can have a profound impact on your life, especially for foreign students. Protecting clients against F1 visa criminal record, convictions, deportations and penalties is our top priority. Criminal charges can threaten your personal and professional well-being, your parental rights and your future.

Our experienced criminal attorneys and Newport Beach DUI lawyer provide smart, aggressive defense for all types of state and Federal criminal charges, including:

Our Glendale criminal defense attorney and immigration attorneys are experienced working with prosecutors, judges and the court systems to adjust charges, reduce sentencing or get cases dismissed to achieve the best possible outcome considering immigration consequences.


Our proactive approach

Some California criminal defense lawyers take a wait-and-see approach. They stall until the first court date, or until they receive the police reports, before investigating and working up your case. By contrast, we believe there’s no time to waste, especially for international students and exchange visitors.

The most critical window for defense may be the first few days following an arrest, or even prior to formal charges being filed.

By getting to work immediately, often we can locate favorable defense evidence and witnesses, and get a head start towards defeating charges.

Stop charged before they are filed?

Sometimes it’s possible for our Santa Monica criminal defense lawyer to stop criminal charges from being filed. After making an arrest or investigating a suspected crime, police take their evidence to the district attorney.

The D.A. evaluates the potential case and decides what, if any, criminal charges to file. Usually, the prosecutor makes this decision based solely on what police present. But often there’s much more to the story.

Often our criminal defense lawyers can also meet with the D.A. during this same time period to present our evidence and witness statements.

Knowing your side of the story may affect the D.A.’s calculations and help prevent F1 students deported. When the prosecutors see the whole picture, not just what the police or alleged “victim” have to say, they may decide to file lesser charges such as a misdemeanor rather than a felony, for example. Or perhaps even reject the case and not file any criminal charges at all.

Don’t wait for prosecutors to make the first move

Call 844 325-1444 for a Free, confidential consultation to start your defense!

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Universities where we represent students

Chudnovsky Law provides defense for international students enrolled in all universities and programs in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County and Santa Barbara County California including:

Our student offense attorneys work from our offices in Los Angeles and Orange County except Title IX matters are handled exclusively from our Orange County office.


Los Angeles




1933 S Broadway #1100, Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 212-5002


Orange County




23 Corporate Plaza Dr, Suite 150, Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 750-2500


Long Beach




309 Pine Ave, Suite 200, Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 800-4080


Santa Monica




1541 Ocean Ave, Suite 200, Santa Monica, CA 90401
(424) 340-7220


Cities Served

We represent international students throughout southern California from our Los Angeles and Orange County offices, including:

Los Angeles County: Alhambra, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Buena Park, Burbank, Culver City, El Segundo, Encino, Glendale, Hollywood, Huntington Park, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Pomona, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, Van Nuys, Venice, Ventura, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles and Woodland Hills.

·  ·  ·

Orange County: Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda.


This information does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for individual case consultation. No representations are made as to the accuracy of this information and appropriate legal counsel should be consulted before taking any actions.

Written by Tsion Chudnovsky

Tsion Chudnovsky is a criminal defense and immigration lawyer and founder of Chudnovsky Law, a California criminal defense law firm. Chudnovsky Law offers a rare team of experienced multi-lingual immigration attorneys and top criminal defense attorneys.

The intersection between immigration and criminal law is one of the most complex and technical areas of US law. Chudnovsky Law is recognized as a leader in criminal defense for international students and scholars from all countries and addressing the immigration consequences of criminal charges, arrests and visa revocations.

Avvo 10.0 Superb Rating
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers award
US News & World Best Lawyer Rating
California Assault & Battery Attorney Awards: Findlaw 5 Star Rating, Google 5 Star Rating
Justia 10.0 Lawyer Rating