The DOS recently issued a cable requiring consular officers to refer nonimmigrant visa applicants with prior drunk driving issues to panel physicians approved by the consulate for medical examinations in the following circumstances: 1) If an applicant has a single drunk driving arrest or conviction within the last three calendar years; or 2) if the applicant has two or more drunk driving arrests or convictions in any time period. Additionally, consular officials must now also refer applicants to panel physicians if there is any other evidence to suggest an alcohol problem (e.g. public intoxication).

When applying for a nonimmigrant visa, an applicant with a previous arrest (including drunk driving arrest) will first have to have his/her fingerprints taken and wait for a FBI record result. This process may take anywhere from one to two days at consulates with electronic fingerprint processing or up to two months for consulates that capture fingerprints with ink. Additionally, the consular official will then refer the applicant with a possible alcohol issue to a panel physician approved by the consulate. The panel physician will then report on whether he/she believes that each arrest can be classified as a class A condition or class B condition. A class A determination will render the applicant ineligible for a visa. A class B determination normally results in the applicant being found to be not inadmissible. Please note that some panel physician recommendations can take several weeks and some refer applicants to a psychiatrist for further evaluation before issuing a determination.