Possible Visa Revocation Based on U.S. Arrest Record

OIA has learned that the U.S. Department of State has implemented a policy which requires consular officers to revoke non-immigrant visas of individuals arrested for, or convicted of, driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, or similar arrests/convictions that occurred within the previous five years.  This requirement does not apply when the arrest/conviction occurred prior to the date of the visa application and has already been assessed within the context of a visa application. Such a revocation also does not necessarily mean that the individual cannot get a new visa to come to the U.S.

What does this mean for you?

If you have had an arrest/conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while intoxicated in the U.S., and if this arrest/conviction occurred after you obtained a visa to come to the U.S., it is possible that your visa has been revoked without you being aware of it.  Some individuals across the U.S. have been contacted by the visa post that issued their visa to inform them that their visa had been revoked.  Others have learned of the revocation of their visa when they attempted to return to the U.S. from a trip abroad.  If you had such an arrest/conviction and if you plan to leave the U.S. intending to return, we suggest that you contact the visa post that issued your visa to inquire whether your visa is still valid.  You should do so well in advance of your trip, e.g. before purchasing a plane ticket and when you still have time to make changes in your plans. We also recommend that you do not leave the U.S. until you have taken steps to address the matter. If the individual whose visa has been revoked has dependents in the U.S. in F-2 or J-2 status, the dependents’ visas will also be revoked.

It is important to understand that this requirement does not affect your status in the U.S., only your visa. Remember that your visa is needed to enter the U.S. but once you have entered, your visa does not have to remain valid.  You must, however, have a valid I-20 (F-1/F-2) or DS-2019 (J-1/J-2). If you are not planning a trip abroad in the near future, this requirement does not affect you, even if you have been arrested/convicted, until you do seek to reenter the U.S. after a trip abroad.

If you find that your visa has been revoked, please consult with your regular OIA International Student or Scholar Adviser to discuss your options. We can also assist you in finding a reputable immigration attorney, if the need for such services were to arise.  If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment with an adviser, please contact OIA by sending your e-mail inquiry to international-affairs@uchicago.edu.