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DUIs and Visa Applications

A drunk driving record can have serious implications for individuals as they apply for a U.S. visa. The Department of State has determined that alcohol abuse constitutes a mental disorder, and harmful behavior associated with that mental disorder (drunk driving) can bar an applicant from entering the country.

How Does This Work?

When filling out a visa application, all applicant are required to provide information regarding any arrests or convictions from their past. If this initial inquiry reveals an arrest or conviction for drunk driving or other alcohol-related offenses, an investigation will ensue to determine admissibility. The Department of State has instructed consular officers handling these types of cases to evaluate the applicant’s admissibility from a mental health standpoint. Under the current system, individuals with at least one drunk driving arrest in the past five years are referred to a panel physician for evaluation. The physician then determines whether the applicant suffers from an alcohol-related mental disorder, and if so, whether that disorder is associated with any harmful conduct or behavior. If the answer to both these questions are yes, and the physician determines that this harmful behavior is likely to reoccur in the future, an applicant is deemed inadmissible to the U.S.

The Case of Jung Ho Kang

In case you aren’t familiar with the situation, Jung Ho Kang is a professional baseball player that has been denied admittance to the U.S. based on a series of drunk driving-related offenses in his home country of South Korea. Kang is a native and citizen of South Korea, and in 2015 he signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Following the 2016 season, however, Kang was arrested in South Korea for drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident. This was his third DUI arrest since 2009, and as a result, he was subsequently denied a work visa in the U.S. It is possible that Kang may never play baseball in the U.S. again. The fact that this was Kang’s third DUI in the past 10 years weighs heavily against him.

If you have questions on obtaining a U.S. visa, whether to visit, work or live in the United States, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today!