Over the past couple of years, we have seen a dramatic surge in the number of visa revocations. Every day our office is contacted by individuals who have had the misfortune of having their visas revoked, so we thought this would be a good opportunity to catalog the most prolific reasons for visa revocations.
This blog is not about the Trump Travel Ban and the more than 100,000 visas revoked under it. It also is not about the revocation of visas at US airports upon arrival, nor consular recommendations to revoke USCIS approvals of employment petitions. Rather, it is about the tens of thousands of visa revocations initiated by the Department of State and consular officers around the world every year. This article will list the 12 most “popular” reasons for visa revocations. These visa revocations are triggered by new material information which crops up after the original issuance, calling into question whether the visa holder remains eligible for a visa or admissible to the United States.
- Arrest. An arrest for a variety of crimes can trigger visa revocation: a DUI, shoplifting, drug possession, domestic violence, selling alcohol to a minor. This is true even if the charges are dismissed, or the underlying crime in and of itself is not an adequate basis to find a person inadmissible. Often the revocation request is sent out by the corresponding law enforcement agency to the Department of State, and within 24 hours, DOS will take action to revoke the visa.
- Violations of visa status or conduct in the US inconsistent with representations in the visa process. Spending several months in the US in B status may trigger a suspicion of unlawful employment and a visa revocation. Giving birth in the US may lead to a consular contention of being a public charge and visa revocation. Providing misleading information during the visa process – such as indicating a proposed stay for two weeks and staying for several months – is another reason for a visa revocation. A child who enrolls in elementary school in the US without a student visa may lead to the revocation of the child’s visa, along with his parent’s.
- Security. No-fly, terrorist, and a variety of watch lists are constantly being updated. Not only do these lists encompass the individuals themselves, but known family members, friends, and associates and associates of the associates, as well. The revocation net is being cast farther and farther afield.
- A denied immigrant visa application. A refusal of an immigrant visa may lead to the cancellation of a valid nonimmigrant visa. For example, a Diversity Lottery winner who is denied for not properly filling in the entry may have his B visa cancelled because the intent to immigrate is inconsistent with the terms of a B visa.
- A refused nonimmigrant visa application. For example, an individual applying for a student visa who is denied may have his valid visitor visa revoked because of the suspicion that he will use it to illicitly enroll in school in the US. Or an individual applying for an employment visa who is refused may have his visitor visa revoked because of a consular belief that the individual will travel to the US and try to work anyway.
- A failed nonimmigrant visa application of a family member. This is another reason why a visa may be revoked. For example, a visa holder wishes to travel to the US with her minor son, and applies for a visa for her son. The consul then denies the visa for the son, and suspecting that the holder does not plan to return to the home country, cancels the valid visa.
- A family member in the US engaging in suspicious conduct. A spouse in the home country may be answerable with a visa revocation because her husband is spending an inordinate amount of time in the US in visitor status.
- A poison pen letter. No matter how outlandish, the consul may give credence to a letter to the embassy from an ex-spouse, former business partner, ill-wisher, or jilted lover that accuses a visa holder of engaging in illicit activity or conduct inconsistent with the visa.
- Inaccurate information in a visa application. After the issuance of the visa, the consul verifies information in the application form. If she is unable to verify that information – for example, the phone number or address listed for the employer is inaccurate – then the visa may be revoked. We see this happen when a third party, such as a travel agent or consultant, negligently (or deliberately inaccurately) fills in a visa application form on behalf of the client.
- Alien smuggling. While one may think of alien smuggling as the physical process of illicitly transporting individuals across the border, it actually covers numerous situations and individuals. Organizers of group trips to the US and employees of a travel agency sending tourists to the US may have their visas revoked if they are suspected of improperly facilitating travel for those who otherwise would not receive visas. For example, if the agency is engaged in arranging bogus employment confirmations, all employees of the agency may be impacted with the revocations of their visas.
- Conduct after receipt of the visa but before traveling to the US. For example, applying for a visitor visa, receiving it, and then posting a resume on an American recruiting website seeking a job is grounds for revocation. (Yes, consuls and their staff do such investigations.)
- Other circumstances. For example, a local employee of the US embassy who resigns from his position may have his visa revoked.
As you can see, the reasons for the revocation of a visa vary greatly. But just because a visa has been revoked, does not mean that it is impossible to obtain a new visa. Every situation is different. If your visa has been revoked, contact us to discuss your visa options.