Certain criminal convictions may fit within the categories of crimes that render foreign nationals deportable and/or inadmissible. However, even being arrested could trigger the sharing of information from law enforcement authorities with the Department of State. The consular post may revoke a visa after an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, without resort to the Visa Office in Washington D.C. But the Visa Office “may revoke a visa if an ineligibility or lack of entitlement is suspected, or for virtually any other reason. This is known as a prudential revocation.” 9 FAM 403.11-5(B). For example, a student in lawful nonimmigrant status in the U.S. arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana could have his/her visa cancelled by the Visa Office. The student may not receive notice of the revocation until he/she attempts to return to the U.S. and is prevented from boarding a plane. The revocation forces the person to reapply for a new visa and prove whether he/she is admissible.
Therefore, leaving the U.S. after an arrest could lead to a more prolonged absence than anticipated — to complete a new visa application, attend an interview, and face possible inadmissibility. People who have been arrested may wish to consult a qualified immigration attorney to assess the potential consequences of an arrest, evaluate plea options, review visa validity, and discuss travel plans.