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Visas May Be Revoked Without Notice

The death of 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden may very well be a turning point in the United States’ fight against terrorism. However, although a battle has been won, the “war on terror” is not yet over.

Since September 11, 2001, the government has taken steps to increase domestic security through changes in immigration rules, such as the visa revocation process. For instance, three years after the attack the DOS had revoked 1,250 visas based on information suggesting possible terrorist activities or links. These measures in part resulted from findings that the hijackers used temporary visas which allowed them to stay in this country and perpetrate the attacks.

Citing security concerns, the Department of State issued a new rule that allows a consular official to revoke an immigrant or non-immigrant visa “at any time, in his or her discretion”. The rule, which was published in the April 27, 2011 issue of the Federal Register, took effect immediately.

Under the new rule, the DOS may if practicable give notice of the revocation to the alien, but the consular official may revoke the visa without any notice to the alien either before or after the revocation is effected.

A visa may be revoked when the applicant was, has become, or may become, ineligible for a U.S. visa. Traditionally, this revocation authority was exercised for national security concerns and foreign policy interests.

Furthermore, the alien whose visa was revoked may no longer seek reconsideration of the revocation. Under the old rule, it was possible for the alien to receive a notice of intent to revoke with opportunity to respond and to appeal the revocation. Now, the only remedy is to re-apply for a visa and prove one’s eligibility all over again.

Previously, the holder of the revoked visa was asked to submit the visa to be stamped “revoked”. However, the new rule states that the revocation is valid despite the failure or inability of the DOS to physically cancel the visa.

Because the visa holder no longer needs to be notified, there is a high probability that the alien will learn of the revocation only when he or she is refused admission at a port of entry. A revoked visa is invalid and may not be used for travel.

The new rule, however, allows for a provisional revocation when the DOS needs to consider more information that might lead to a final revocation. If the alien is found eligible, the visa will be reinstated without need of application.

Except for holders of provisionally revoked visas that were later reinstated, an alien whose visa was revoked must apply for a new one and his/ her eligibility will be adjudicated at that time. This means that even though you have several years remaining on your 10-year multiple entry visa, once it is revoked you may no longer use it to enter the U.S. and you would have to apply for another visa.

An immigration officer is also authorized to revoke a valid visa by physically cancelling it if the alien adjusts status or obtains an immigrant visa, is ordered excluded from the U.S., given permission to withdraw an application for admission, issued a final order of deportation, or permitted to voluntarily depart from the U.S.

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