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US Visas and DUI convictions

From time to time clients contact me trying to determine if they still qualify for a visa, despite some criminal activity in the past. ” I was young and stupid and now I will be paying for this”.

I learned recently that the Department of State is implementing a new policy with respect to immigrant visa (IV) and non-immigrant visa (NIV) applicants with a history of arrests or convictions for drunk driving.

Consular officers will now refer certain IV / NIV applicants with prior drunk driving arrests or convictions to panel physicians to evaluate whether the applicants are inadmissible to the U.S. under the physical or mental disorder ground of inadmissibility. See INA § 212 (a) (1) (A) (iii). Under this law, any foreign citizen is inadmissible to the U.S. if he or she has or has had a physical or mental disorder that poses a threat to others.


Consular officers must refer IV / NIV applicants to panel physicians in two circumstances: (1) an applicant has a single drunk driving arrest or conviction within the last three calendar years or two or more drunk driving arrests or (2) convictions for drunk driving in any time period. Consular officers must also refer applicants to panel physicians if there is any other evidence to suggest an alcohol problem. A foreign citizen will be considered inadmissible to the U.S. under the this ground if the panel physician determines that the foreign citizen has a mental disorder (alcohol abuse) and presents harmful behavior associated with the mental disorder.

Read the Consular Cable here Download file