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DOS Visa Revocation Policy May Pose Serious Consequences

On March 14th, 2016, the U.S. Department of State made public all unclassified Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) Volume 9 content. The updated FAM included the State Department’s revised policy in connection with prudential visa revocations. The issue of the DOS’ prudential revocations of visas subsequent to their approval and to the U.S. entry by the visa recipient is concerning and has the capacity to have far-reaching consequences. This is especially so because a prudential visa revocation is not considered to be a finding of inadmissibility; therefore, the burden of proof required for the State Department to revoke a visa under the applicable statute of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is considerably lower.

Pursuant to INA and State Department regulations, when derogatory information is discovered about a visa applicant subsequent to the visa issuance, an evaluation is performed as to whether or not it is prudent to revoke the previously issued visa.[1] The stated purpose of this process is to allow the visa applicant to present herself once again before the consular officer in order to be requested to provide additional information that may either clear the applicant for a new visa issuance or, alternatively, for confirmation of suspected grounds of inadmissibility and a visa refusal.[2]

On April 7, 2016, in a meeting between the State Department and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), AILA liaisons with the DOS relayed that there have been an increasing number of reports regarding notices of visa revocation being issued for foreign nationals who are in the U.S. at the time of revocation.[3] In response to this query, the State Department confirmed that the FAM provisions have been updated to now provide the U.S. consular posts with the authority to revoke visas “based on driving under the influence.”[4] This provision continues, and states that “outside of the DUI exception, revocations of aliens in, or en route to, the U.S. may only be done by the department’s Visas Office of Screening Analysis and Coordination (CA/VO/SAC).[5]

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