California’s DUI laws can be complex and confusing. In this section, our attorneys break down the rules and explain the process.
An arrest for driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) can result in the revocation of an H-1B visa. A DUI arrest can also result in the non-renewal of an H-1B visa. Consular officials with the U.S. Department of State have the discretion to take either of these actions (revocation or non-renewal) depending on the facts of the drunk driving case. Further, they can take these actions regardless of whether a DUI arrest results in a DUI conviction.
Note that an H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that is granted to foreign nationals who work in a U.S. “specialty occupation.” A specialty occupation is one that requires specialized knowledge and the attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree.
Further note that depending on the employer employing the nonimmigrant worker, it may lawfully terminate the worker’s employment following a DUI. Given the requirements for an H-1B visa, termination from employment may result in the revocation of the visa itself.
It is critical for H-1B visa holders to contact a criminal defense attorney or a U.S. immigration lawyer immediately following a DUI arrest. Skilled attorneys can provide helpful legal advice so that people arrested for DUI can improve their chances of keeping their H-1B visas.
Consular officials at the U.S. Department of State may revoke a foreign professional’s H-1B visa for a single DUI arrest.1
Similarly, officers can decide to non-renew an H-1B visa (or decide to not grant an H-1B extension) for a DUI arrest.
Note that officers have the discretion to take either of these actions. That is, revocation and non-renewal are not automatic. They are usually determined by the specific facts involved in a DUI case, like:
Please keep in mind that just a DUI arrest can lead to negative visa consequences. It is not necessary that the arrest brings about criminal charges or a criminal conviction for drunk driving.
An H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that is given to authorized foreign professionals who work in a “specialty occupation” for a USA employer.2
Specialty occupations are ones that require:
These occupations are usually found in the following fields:
Note that H-1B visas are nonimmigrant visas as opposed to immigrant visas. Nonimmigrant visas are considered temporary in nature as they allow professionals to remain in the U.S. for work purposes. Immigrant visas allow qualified persons to live in the U.S. permanently (for example, these persons can legally carry a green card).
People that wish to obtain an H-1B visa must file a visa application and complete a visa interview with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Once a visa is obtained, the visa holder must meet certain requirements to lawfully keep the visa. One is often that the foreign professional must maintain his/her employment. But note that with a DUI, an employer can lawfully terminate the visa holder’s employment. One result, then, could be the actual revocation of the visa.
Most convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol will not have negative immigration consequences for immigrant visa holders. Most states charge DUI as a misdemeanor and the offense is not considered a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT).4
Courts have repeatedly held that simply driving under the influence (on its own) is not grounds for removal or deportation.5
Note, however, that DUI charges could negatively impact a person’s immigration status if:
Yes. If a H-1B visa holder was arrested for DUI, that person should contact a DUI lawyer or immigration attorney for help.
Defense attorneys and immigration lawyers can help a visa holder understand the laws applicable to his/her DUI case.
A skilled attorney can also help a person draft a legal defense so that the person can keep his/her H-1B visa. A few common defenses include a lawyer showing that:
Note that most lawyers and law firms provide free consultations. A free consult means a visa holder can secure valuable legal advice without spending a dime.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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