On November 15, 2016, the DOS announced a new policy that requires consular officers to prudentially revoke (without making a determination that the individual is inadmissible) nonimmigrant visas of FNs arrested for, or convicted of, driving under the influence (“DUI”)/driving while intoxicated (“DWI”), or similar alcohol-related arrests or convictions that have occurred within the previous five years. This new requirement, however, does not apply when the arrest or conviction occurred prior to the date of the visa application and already has been considered in approving the visa application. 

Under the immigration laws, alcohol-related driving offences may indicate a possible ground for inadmissibility if they are associated with harmful behavior that is likely to pose a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the applicant or others. DOS’s new prudential revocation policy reflects that a DUI/DWI arrest or conviction may demonstrate to consular officers that the applicant may now be inadmissible to the United States. 

In most situations, this will not affect the nonimmigrant status of the visa applicant and his or her family as long as they remain in this country. If they leave the country, however, the applicant and all family members will have to apply for and obtain new visas. Depending on the severity and circumstances of the DUI/DWI, this may not be possible. Thus, it is critical that FNs faced with this situation secure competent legal advice before leaving the United States.