Every visa applicant has been fingerprinted by the time he/she applies for a visa. This information is used to check the security backgrounds of a visa applicant and stored for future use. After a visa applicant has arrived in the U.S., if he/she is arrested for any reason and fingerprinted for it, the fingerprinting can trigger a “hit” to the Department of State, which may notify the U.S. consulate post that has issued the visa. Depending on the nature of the arrest, the post can choose to revoke the person’s visa. If that happens, the post will send an email to the visa holder and alert him/her that his/her visa has been revoked. The latest policy appears to be that the post will revoke the visa if the person has been arrested for DUI in the U.S. It is important to note a conviction is not required. An arrest, alone, is sufficient to trigger the visa revocation. In addition to DUI, the post can revoke a visa for other reasons as well.
If a person’s visa has been revoked, he/she cannot use it to come to the U.S. anymore, even though the visa may appear to be valid on paper. Anyone who attempts to use a revoked visa to enter the U.S. will be flagged either at the time the person checks in for a flight, or when the person lands. He/she will be denied entry into the U.S.
If the person is already in the U.S. and proceeds through U.S. Customs on a student or work status, the revoked visa does not necessarily mean that the person has to leave the U.S. The revoked visa does not automatically void the person’s status in the US because the visa is only used for entry into the U.S. After the person has entered the U.S., the validity of his/her status is governed by the I-94 admission record. As long as the person’s I-94 record is still valid, the person may remain in the U.S. after his/her visa has been revoked. However, the revoked visa means that the next time the person travels outside of the U.S., he/she must apply for a new visa in order to return to the U.S. The arrest and/or conviction that has resulted in the visa revocation obviously makes it more uncertain whether the person can obtain a visa again.
If the person has used an email when applying for the U.S. visa that is no longer valid, the person may not even know that his/her visa has been revoked. This is particularly troubling if the person travels outside of the U.S. without any realization that his/her visa has been revoked and he/she has to apply for a new visa, which usually takes several weeks even in the fastest post.
While we have not seen any persecution for deportation of individuals in the U.S. whose visas have been revoked, the fact is that the law allows ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) to initiate deportation under INA 237(a) for individuals whose visa has been revoked. This applies even though the underlying offence triggering the visa revocation is not a deportable offense.