Expanded Authority in Visa Revocation at Consulates

Newly Altered Rule Granting US Consular Officers New Discretion and Authority to Revoke Already Approved Nonimmigrant Temporary Visas

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently published and posted at all US Embassies and Consulates abroad, a final rule giving U.S. Consular Officers increased power to revoke previously-approved Nonimmigrant (temporary) Visa foils (known as “stamps”). The altered regulations also provide authority to temporarily revoke already approved Nonimmigrant Visas, while a final revocation is under consideration. This new rule became effective April 27, 2011 as well as appeared in that day’s edition of the Federal Register.

No Reconsideration for Revoked Already Approved Temporary Nonimmigrant Visas Post Newly Altered US Immigration Law

The effect of this regulation, as explained by the DOS, is to expand the Consular Officers’ Visa Revocation Authority to the full extent allowed by US Immigration Law. The regulation now permits US Consular Officers the ability to revoke already-approved Nonimmigrant Visas at any time after issuance, at the sole discretion of the US Consular Officers. The prior regulation allowed US Consular Officers to revoke Nonimmigrant Visas in somewhat more limited circumstances. As explained below, reconsideration is no longer an option. The Visas discussed here are Nonimmigrant, temporary visas. These are the “lettered” Visas, such as Visitor B-1/B-2, Student F-1 and M-1, Temporary Worker H-1B and Intercompany Transferee L-1 Nonimmigrant Status.

Reasons: Not Qualifying for Visa or Later Ineligibility

The Department of State discusses the reason in which a US Consular Officer is able to revoke an already approved Nonimmigrant Visa

The DOS states that, on occasion, after a Nonimmigrant Visa has been granted to an individual, information becomes available that shows the new Visa holder either was not qualified to receive the Nonimmigrant Visa or has since become ineligible for the Nonimmigrant Visa after its issuance. In these circumstances, there is authority in the law for revocation of Nonimmigrant Visas. Limitations on this authority were made by regulation before, which the DOS believes needed to be changed due to United States security concerns.

What if a Temporary Nonimmigrant becomes Re-Eligible for Admissibility?

In this new regulation, the DOS has eliminated previously-existing procedures for reconsideration of Nonimmigrant Visa revocation decisions made by Consular Officers. In place of these provisions, the revised regulations created a procedure for temporary, provisional Nonimmigrant Visa revocation. This allows a temporary revocation, pending the outcome of an investigation as to whether a final revocation is appropriate or not. If an individual whose Nonimmigrant Visa was temporarily revoked, is later found to be in fact eligible for that Nonimmigrant Visa, then the Visa will be reinstated with no need for a new Nonimmigrant Visa application. However, if a final revocation is issued by a Consular Officer or other DOS official, then the individual needs to apply for a new Nonimmigrant Visa at a US Embassy or at a US Consulate.

Procedure for Consular Officer to Revoke Temporary Nonimmigrant Visa Prior to Entering the United States

The provisions state that, unless otherwise instructed by the DOS, the Consular Officer shall, if practicable, notify the Foreign National that the Nonimmigrant Visa has been revoked (or provisionally revoked). In any and all cases, once the revocation is entered into the appropriate database, known as the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS), the Nonimmigrant Visa is no longer valid for travel to the United States. If the Consular Officer has the individual’s passport with the Nonimmigrant Visa, the Visa shall be canceled by writing or stamping ‘REVOKED’ plainly across the face of the Nonimmigrant Visa. This procedure is followed only if the Consular Officer is in possession of the passport; if not, the revocation may take place as described above, without physically canceling the Nonimmigrant Visa stamp in the passport.

Due to Security Concerns, USCIS’ Final Conclusion for Aspiring Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants is Unclear

The Department Of State explains that this change is tied to security concerns with the Department of homeland Security and US Immigration. The final impact of this regulation and the extent to which the authority will be used is not yet clear. A number of situations might arise that would not present security concerns, but where the revocation of the Nonimmigrant Visa would not be inappropriate because the individual clearly is no longer eligible to receive a Nonimmigrant Visa.

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