The Department of State (DOS) implemented a new policy which allows consular officers to prudentially revoke nonimmigrant visas where the beneficiary has a prior arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). This policy change will affect visa holders who have at least one DUI arrest within the past five years, as well as visa holders who have two or more DUI arrests within the past 10 years. The DOS clarified that this policy extends to a DUI arrest even if that arrest did not result in a conviction. However, the DOS noted that it would not revoke a visa if the DUI arrest was addressed in the context of the previous visa application (i.e. the individual went through a panel physician assessment due to the arrest).
Individuals applying for a new visa with a DUI arrest record, including those whose visas were revoked in light of this new policy, should expect to undergo a panel physician examination following their visa appointment to determine admissibility to the United States. DOS policy is that DUIs are a public safety issue, indicative of a possible physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior, potentially resulting in inadmissibility to the US. Where required, the United States Consulate will not issue the visa until the individual has been medically cleared by the local panel physician.
Based on the foregoing, we strongly recommend that foreign nationals with prior DUI arrests seek counsel to determine if this new policy will have any impact on their ability to travel to the US.
For more information on the Department of State's new DUI policy, please contact a member of our team.