International Students and DWI/DUI Arrests or Convictions

International students hope that they will never be arrested or convicted for a crime while in the United States. But many students do not know that a single arrest for drunk driving, commonly known as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving While Under the Influence (DUI) can have serious implications for student visa renewals abroad or an application for a visa in a new category (such as H-1B).

Specifically, if there has been a single drunk driving arrest OR conviction within the last three calendar years prior to the visa interview, OR two or more drunk driving arrests or convictions during any time period, the visa applicant will be referred by the consular officer for a medical examination prior to the adjudication of the visa application. Such a referral can delay the visa application process significantly.

The visa application will be denied if the physician finds that there is a mental disorder (alcohol abuse) and there is current harmful behavior associated with the mental disorder OR there is a history of harmful behavior associated with the mental disorder that is judged likely to recur in the future. Neither drunk driving nor alcohol abuse by themselves are sufficient grounds for denying the visa application, only if there are harmful behaviors associated with it. But, since only the physician can make that determination, the visa application cannot be approved until the medical evaluation is completed and the results submitted to the visa officer.

This policy has been in effect since June 2007. A US State Department cable issued at that time to all US visa posts abroad provides additional detail.

So don’t let this happen to you. Avoid this situation by remembering, don’t drink and drive. Either take a taxi or have a designated driver who will not be drinking any alcohol if you go out and plan to drink.

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Last Updated: 4/12/16