Can someone be denied a visa for having a mental disorder or alcohol problem?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2021 | Family Immigration

People are more open about mental disorders than they were even a few decades ago, and they’re more likely to seek the help they need. That’s true not just in the U.S., but in many other countries.

If you have a loved one who plans to seek a visa to enter and reside in the U.S., you might not have considered that a diagnosed mental health issue could keep them from doing so. But they have to truthfully answer numerous questions both about their physical and mental health to obtain a visa. 

Has there been harmful behavior?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may consider mental or physical disorders grounds for denial of a visa only if there is “harmful behavior associated with those disorders.” Harmful behavior is considered anything “that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the applicant or others.”

It’s important to note that for the USCIS, an addiction or abuse issue involving any substance not listed in the Controlled Substance Act is considered a mental disorder. That includes alcohol use disorder since alcohol isn’t considered a controlled substance. 

Why DUIs are relevant

That means the agency is going to look for DUIs or other countries’ equivalent offenses since that’s considered harmful behavior. That doesn’t mean that anyone who’s ever been convicted of drunk driving will be denied a visa. One DUI a decade ago where there was no crash involved certainly isn’t the same as multiple DUIs within the past year where people were injured.

If someone decides to simply omit a DUI or any other criminal record on their application, they’re just creating more problems. The USCIS does criminal background checks based in part on fingerprints. If it finds something not reported, it likely will call the person in for a re-evaluation.

If you’re concerned about the admissibility of a family member because of their mental health or alcohol history, it’s wise to consult an experienced immigration attorney. They can also help if your loved one has already been denied a visa or is facing a re-evaluation.

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