In recent days, more and more people speak openly about their battles with mental health. They speak to meet others going through similar struggles and reach out to get help when necessary.
However, there are some situations in which this openness could cause potential problems. First and foremost, it is something for immigrants to consider when looking into visas.
Alcoholism as a mental health disorder
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services looks into harmful behavior associated with some disorders. The USCIS can only consider a mental or physical disorder as grounds for a denial of visa if “harmful behavior” gets associated with said disorder.
Under their definition, harmful behavior constitutes any action that poses a threat – or may pose as a threat – to the safety, property and welfare of either the applicant directly, or other individuals.
For the USCIS, abuses involving substances not listed in the Controlled Substances Act fall under the category of a mental disorder. This includes alcohol. Thus, alcoholism alone does not provide grounds for visa denial unless it is also accompanied by harmful behavior.
The impact of a DUI record
However, DUIs hold relevance in this case. As a criminal act, records of DUIs serve as harmful behavior. The type of crime and its age will factor into this decision, though. For example, someone with one DUI conviction over a decade ago with no harm done to anyone else will get a more favorable review than someone with many recent DUIs that caused harm.
The most important thing is to report all of this information accurately, even if it seems like it may work against you. Hiding information is an even bigger issue, after all.