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Beware getting your non-immigrant visa yanked for merely being arrested for DWI

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Rather than waiting for a president Donald Trump to wreak further havoc on immigration law and practice, I am now seeing some DWI defendants getting their non-immigrant F-1 student and H-1B professional visas yanked BEFORE their cases are adjudicated in court.

Who in the federal government is monitoring non-immigrant visa holders for mere DWI charges? I would like to know. Who is turning the presumption of innocence on its head by cancelling non-immigrant visas on the mere basis of a criminal charge in court that might result in an acquittal, dismissal, or conviction for a lesser charge? This move is coming from John Kerry’s State Department, through this directive issued or re-issued as recently as February 2016. What happens to such people who get their non-immigrant visas cancelled?

I recently talked with a reliable immigration lawyer about this yanking of non-immigrant visas over pending DWI cases. This lawyer explained that my clients who face this yanking may continue benefiting from that visa so long as my client remains in the United States with a current Form I-20. However, what happens if my client needs or wants temporarily to leave the United States, for instance to visit relatives overseas or even to go for a weekend to the Caribbean? My client of course will be free to leave the United States, but not to return without reapplying for the visa at the appropriate United States consulate abroad.

What will happen to my client’s ability to re-0btain his or her non-immigrant visa if s/he gets convicted for DWI, or, in the alternative, for reckless driving, which generally is viewed by society as less serious than a DWI conviction? This immigration lawyer said factors to consider are the as-yet-to-be-announced new immigration policies and practices to come with the administration of Donald Trump, who has already spoken against the decades-long H-1B professional visa program

For non-immigrant visa holders, this whole situation makes driving after drinking all the more dicey. Let people call  you a killjoy if you refuse to get behind the wheel within 24 hours of drinking, which is better than being called fun-loving from afar.

For those who get charged with DWI, and that means anyone, it is critical to obtain a qualified lawyer to defend you, because the adverse collateral consequences from a DWI conviction can be many.