Acquiring a visa to temporarily reside in the United States can be a cumbersome task, and for many, the prospect of potentially losing that visa is an ever-present concern. This visa can be revoked for certain reasons, including being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. However, it may be unclear how a conviction of driving while under the influence may fit into this revocation rule. If you have been convicted of a DUI and are concerned for the status of your visa, it is important to stay informed about the current rules for how these two elements work together.
Changes to How DUIs Are Handled
Crimes of moral turpitude, actions that are deemed serious criminal conduct, are some of the more common reasons for a visa to be revoked. In the past, driving while under the influence was not considered to be a crime of moral turpitude; however, as the government continues to transition into a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving, the nature of how a DUI is viewed has also been changing.
As of July 2007, the government has gradually stopped viewing DUIs in light of their criminal consequences and instead considers them in the category of health-related criteria for a visa. This category is meant to make certain individuals who pose a risk to others, inadmissible, such as if they have a communicable disease or a mental disorder that could result in harm to others.
DUIs are now also included in this health category, and consulates have been instructed to automatically revoke a person’s visa in order to force them to undergo a new medical evaluation (pursuant to a new visa). Thus, the medical exam can determine whether the person is a threat to others due to an addiction disorder.
How to Tell If a Visa Has Been Revoked
If you have been convicted of a DUI in recent years, it is possible that your visa may have been revoked, even if you were not informed. You may contact the consulate where your visa was issued, but the safest method is to simply assume that your visa has been revoked and to plan to complete a new application the next time that you travel outside of the United States.
Can I Get a New Visa?
Typically, you will be able to obtain a new visa unless your DUI included other factors that would cause you to be inadmissible. For example, criminal grounds for inadmissibility include multiple criminal convictions for which you spent greater than 5 years (cumulatively) in prison. If your DUI causes you to fulfill this criterion, you may not be able to secure another visa.
Do I Need to Redo the Lottery?
If you previously acquired a visa through the lottery system, you will not be required to reenter the lottery as long as you were selected within the last 6 years. Instead, you would apply as a cap-exempt visa applicant which primarily applies to H-1B visa holders. A legal professional can help you understand how reapplication may apply to your situation.
Will Dependents Be Affected?
It is generally wise to assume that your dependents, if any, will also be impacted by your DUI conviction. Some types of visas are more secure for your dependents, such as H-1Bs and L-1s. However, those carrying an F visa, blanket L categories and E visas may be more susceptible to having dependents also lose their status through revocation due to a conviction of driving while under the influence. Be sure to check with the consulate to see if your family is out of status after a DUI conviction. Your attorney can help you to do this although your entire family may need to travel abroad for multiple weeks in order to acquire new visas before reentry.
Trust the Professionals to Assist with Your Visa After a DUI
If you have been charged with a DUI, you have some questions about how a conviction could impact your visa status. While revocations due to driving while under the influence are now more common, you may still have options to continue your work and residence in the United States after a DUI conviction.
It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the event in order to immediately implement plans that ensure you and your family take the proper steps to acquire new visas as necessary. Contact the attorneys at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge to schedule a consultation; we will be happy to help you understand those next steps.