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Visa Revocation

It is not unusual for a consular officer to issue a visa, and after new information comes to light, to call the visa holder back to the consulate to revoke the visa. There are three primary situations when a visa can be revoked:

  1. if the holder is inadmissible to the United States on security, criminal, medical, financial or other grounds;
  2. if the holder of a nonimmigrant visa is not entitled to the visa because he does not meet the criteria for the visa category (Section 214(b)); or
  3. if a potential reason for inadmissibility or ineligibility, usually involving law enforcement, is suspected («prudential revocation»). The decision to revoke a visa can originate from the State Department in Washington, D.C. or with the consular officer at a consulate.

Since 2001, approximately 60,000 visas have been revoked.

Revocation Process

Before revoking the visa, the consular officer usually is obliged to invite the visa holder to the consulate for an interview, and give him a chance to show why the visa should not be revoked. When revoking the visa, the officer will write by hand the word Cancelled or Revoked; notify the person on what legal grounds the visa was revoked; make an entry into the visa system; and complete a Certificate of Revocation of Visa. If the visa holder cannot be found, the officer will notify airlines of the revocation. If the person is already en route to the United States, he will be detained and have his visa revoked at the port of entry.

Source of Information

The source of the negative information leading to the revocation can vary — from a jilted American (e.g., accusing his desired spouse of being a spy), a competitor (e.g., alleging that the visa holder owes money), a disgruntled ex-spouse (e.g., saying that he owes child support), a former business partner (e.g., contending that he is involved in drugs), or a debtor who wants to cut off access to US courts (e.g., notifying the consulate that he believes that the holder plans to remain in the US illegally on his nonimmigrant visa). Obviously, the motives of these individuals may not be legitimate; sometimes, the accusations alone, even if true, may not be legal grounds for revocation of the visa. But too often, the consular officer will err on the side of caution, or take the word of an American party on its face in revoking a visa.

Sometimes, the consular officer will take the initiative and research the visa usage of a holder. If the officer finds anything questionable in the usage, he will call the holder to the consulate and confront her with the negative information. For example, if an individual applies for a visa, and indicates he plans to visit the US with another person who already has a visa, the officer may investigate that individual’s usage of the visa. If the visa holder spent prolonged time in the US, leading to consular suspicion of illegal work or residing in the US, he may be called in for an interview. If the holder does not convince the officer of the legitimate usage of the visa, the officer will revoke the visa.

How Can W&A Help?

If your visa has been revoked and you believe that it was done so without valid cause, you should aggressively challenge the decision. A visa revocation is a serious matter, which can implicate a permanent bar from the United States or many years of an inability to receive a visa. These cases can be very complicated.

Fortunately, a legal mechanism, called visa reinstatement, is available to have a visa revocation overturned. We can assist you in preparing your request for visa reinstatement and ensure that proper consideration and review is undertaken by the consular officer. Please contact us to discuss your situation in more detail.

Case Studies

Mr. T was convicted of possession of a "dangerous drug" in the US and found inadmissible. In a long and complicated case, we strategized with a criminal lawyer about the possibility of vacating his conviction. Upon the motion of the criminal lawyer, the court vacated the conviction and issued a writ of coram nobis. Mr. T pled to a lesser charge, a charge that did not carry a permanent bar. The consulate rescinded the decision and Mr. T was no longer inadmissible.

Case of M.T.