A consular officer is authorized to revoke a nonimmigrant visa at any time, in his or her discretion. A revoked visa is no longer valid for entry or reentry to the United States. This authority is sourced in statute, regulation, and policy.

The Immigration and Nationality Act at INA 221(i); 8 USC 1201(i) provides:

(i) Revocation of visas or documents

After the issuance of a visa or other documentation to any alien, the consular officer or the Secretary of State may at any time, in his discretion, revoke such visa or other documentation. Notice of such revocation shall be communicated to the Attorney General, and such revocation shall invalidate the visa or other documentation from the date of issuance: Provided, That carriers or transportation companies, and masters, commanding officers, agents, owners, charterers, or consignees, shall not be penalized under section 1323(b) of this title for action taken in reliance on such visas or other documentation, unless they received due notice of such revocation prior to the alien's embarkation. There shall be no means of judicial review (including review pursuant to section 2241 of title 28 or any other habeas corpus provision, and sections 1361 and 1651 of such title) of a revocation under this subsection, except in the context of a removal proceeding if such revocation provides the sole ground for removal under section 1227(a)(1)(B) of this title.

For nonimmigrant visa revocation, Department of State implementing regulations at 22 CFR 41.122(a) state:

(a) Grounds for revocation by consular officers. A consular officer, the Secretary, or a Department official to whom the Secretary has delegated this authority is authorized to revoke a nonimmigrant visa at any time, in his or her discretion.

Similar grounds for revoking an immigrant visa are established by 22 CFR 42.82.

The Department of State's Foreign Affairs Manual also gives consular officers guidance on visa revocation policy and practice, at 9 FAM 403.11.

Provisional visa revocations

Department of State regulations also give consular officers or the Secretary of State the authority to provisionally revoke a nonimmigrant visa, "while considering information related to whether a visa holder is eligible for the visa." A provisional revocation has the same effect as a regular revocation.

22 CFR 41.122(b) provides:

(b) Provisional revocation.

(1) General. A provisional revocation is subject to reversal through internal procedures established by the Department of State. Upon reversal of the revocation, the visa immediately resumes the validity provided for on its face. Provisional revocation shall have the same force and effect as any other visa revocation under INA 221(i), unless and until the revocation has been reversed. Neither the provisional revocation of a visa nor the reversal of a provisional revocation limits, in any way, the revocation authority provided for under INA 221(i), with respect to the particular visa or any other visa.

(2) Pending visa eligibility determination. A consular officer, the Secretary, or any Department official to whom the Secretary has delegated this authority may provisionally revoke a nonimmigrant visa while considering information related to whether a visa holder is eligible for the visa.

(3) Automatic provisional revocation based on failure to comply with all EVUS requirements. Visas held by individuals subject to the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) who have not complied with the conditions described in 8 CFR 215.24 or whose notification of compliance has expired or been rescinded are automatically provisionally revoked and are no longer valid for travel to the United States, without further notice to the visa holder. The automatic provisional revocation pursuant to this paragraph (b)(3) shall be automatically reversed upon compliance with EVUS requirements set out at 8 CFR part 215, subpart B, as confirmed by receipt of a notification of compliance. A visa revoked on grounds other than failure to comply with EVUS shall remain revoked, notwithstanding compliance with EVUS.

Similar grounds for provisionally revoking an immigrant visa are established by 22 CFR 42.82.

The Foreign Affairs Manual at 9 FAM 403.11-5(B) also speaks of prudential revocations, which appear to be based on the "provisional revocation" language of the regulation, but allow DOS to prudentially revoke a visa on the basis of a possible ground of inadmissibility. The prudential revocation authority in the FAM is often used to revoke visas after an alcohol-related arrest or conviction (see 9 FAM 403.11-5(B)(c) - - Prudential visa revocation for DUI arrests or convictions).

Notification of visa revocations

Both the individual whose visa has been revoked as well as airlines might be notified by DOS that a visa has been revoked.

DOS regulations at 22 CFR 41.122(c) provide that DOS should notify the alien whose visa is revoked or provisionally revoked, "if practicable."

(c) Notice of revocation. Unless otherwise instructed by the Department, a consular officer shall, if practicable, notify the alien to whom the visa was issued that the visa was revoked or provisionally revoked. Regardless of delivery of such notice, once the revocation has been entered into the Department's Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS), the visa is no longer to be considered valid for travel to the United States. The date of the revocation shall be indicated in CLASS and on any notice sent to the alien to whom the visa was issued. This paragraph (c) does not apply to provisional revocations under paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

If the visa is available to the consular officer, the officer is also instructed to physically cancel the visa by writing or stamping the word "REVOKED" plainly across the face of the visa. The revocation of the visa in the CLASS system controls, however, regardless of whether the visa is actually physically canceled. 22 CFR 41.122(d)  

Before 2020, the Foreign Affairs Manual contained a "Sample Letter of Notification of Revocation to Airline" and a "Sample Certificate of Revocation" that were useful to review. They are no longer available in the FAM. For archive purposes, those models from a prior revision to the FAM read:

9 FAM 403.11-4(A)(2) (U) Sample Letter of Notification of Revocation to Airline and Certificate of Revocation

(CT: VISA-50; 02-22-2016)

a. (U) Sample Letter of Notification to Airline:

(1) Sample Text:

(Embassy or Consulate Letterhead)

(Date)

Dear Sir / Madam / Company:

Pursuant to the authority contained in Department of State regulations 22 CFR 41.122, this letter serves as official notification by the United States Embassy / Consulate in (post) that the nonimmigrant visa of the below named individual has been revoked, and is no longer valid for application for entry into the United States.

  • Name of visa holder

  • Date and place of birth

  • Visa classification (symbol)

  • Date and place of visa issuance

  • Other pertinent information

The Embassy/Consulate has informed/attempted to inform the visa holder of this revocation, and has instructed the bearer to surrender the visa to this office for physical cancellation. However, the visa holder may not comply with this request, and attempt to travel on the appearance that the visa is still valid. If the holder should attempt to travel after your receipt of this notice, and your company permits the holder to embark in spite of this notification, your company may be liable to a fine of up to $1,000.00 for having transported to the United States a person who is not in possession of a valid visa.

If the above individual contacts your company, I request that you direct him/her to contact the US Embassy/Consulate as soon as possible. I greatly appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

[Name]

b. (U) Certificate of Revocation:

(1) Sample Text:

Certificate of Revocation

This is to certify that I, the undersigned Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, acting pursuant to the authority conferred on the Secretary of State by section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(i)), which has been delegated to the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs and to me by Delegation of Authority no. 367 and Redelegation of Authority no. 367-1, hereby revoke any and all visas issued to (applicant, date and place of birth), including but not limited to the (classification of) nonimmigrant visa issued at the Embassy of the United States in (post) on (date).

This action is based on the fact that subsequent to visa issuance, evidence came to light that the alien may be inadmissible to the United States and ineligible for visa issuance pursuant to Section (…) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

This revocation shall become effective immediately on the date on which this certificate is signed unless the alien is present in the United States at that time, in which case it will become effective immediately upon the alien’s departure from the United States.

Date

Deputy Assistant Secretary For Visa Services

Impact of visa revocation while someone is in the United States

Remember that a visa and immigration status are two separate things. For example, under 22 CFR 41.112(a), "The period of [visa] validity has no relation to the period of time the immigration authorities at a port of entry may authorize the alien to stay in the United States." But what happens to the immigration status of someone whose visa was revoked while they are in the United States?

Here comes the tricky part. We will provide some material here that nonimmigrants should discuss with an immigration lawyer if they are concerned. INA 237(a)(1)(B); 8 USC 1227(a)(1)(B), provides:

"Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this chapter or any other law of the United States, or whose nonimmigrant visa (or other documentation authorizing admission into the United States as a nonimmigrant) has been revoked under section 221(i), is deportable."

Does that mean that someone whose visa is revoked while they are in the United States is always removable because of the visa revocation alone? The answer is not always clear. There is some support for the contention that a provisional visa revocation might not, in itself, render a nonimmigrant removable, as there can be a difference between when a visa is revoked and when the revocation becomes effective for a specific individual. The sample "certificate of revocation" reproduced above, for example, closed with the statement:

"This revocation shall become effective immediately on the date on which this certificate is signed unless the alien is present in the United States at that time, in which case it will become effective immediately upon the alien’s departure from the United States."

A visa revocation would also render that visa unusable for purposes of the "automatic extension of visa validity" benefit of 22 CFR 41.112(d) after travel of less than 30 days to contiguous territory, since that benefit technically extends an expired visa (or changes and extends a prior visa if the individual would like to reenter after a change of status). Since a revoked visa is not extendable, it cannot serve as the basis for automatic revalidation.

Nonimmigrants in the United States who are concerned about the impact of a visa revocation on their immigration status, or who have had an immigration benefit denied solely on the basis of a visa revocation, should discuss their situation with an immigration lawyer. In any case, individuals whose visas have been revoked while they are in the United States should always make sure to maintain all the terms and conditions of their valid nonimmigrant status during their stay.

Reinstatement of revoked visas

Just as the Department of State has the authority to revoke a visa, it also has the authority to reinstate a visa that it has revoked. The Foreign Affairs Manual gives the following guidance to consular officers on visa reinstatement following revocation.

9 FAM 403.11-6(A) - Reinstatement Following Revocation

NAFSA note: the introductory language in the current version of this FAM entry is listed as Unavailable to the public. Here is the introductory language prior to the 4/24/2020 revision to his provision, for reference purposes: [If a visa has been revoked and you subsequently determine that the reason for revocation has been overcome and the alien is no longer ineligible, and that the visa has not been physically cancelled, then the visa should be reinstated in accordance with the appropriate procedure as indicated below, and, in all applicable cases, the procedures listed below should be taken promptly. Posts should submit CLOK removal requests for any revocation-related entries (or contact the Department for entries with DPT refusal sites), and contact the CA Service Desk for removal of the red REVOKED banner from any applicable NIV records.]

(1) (U) If Visa Has Been Revoked But No Further Action Taken: If the visa has not been physically canceled, and if notices of revocation have not been sent, a brief summary of the pertinent facts is to be entered into the case notes in CCD indicating that the revocation was withdrawn. Posts should submit CLOK removal requests for any revocation-related entries and contact the CA Service Desk for removal of the red REVOKED banner in the CCD (or contact [email protected] if the revocation was processed by the Department)

(2) (U) If Visa Has Been Revoked and Physically Canceled: If a visa has been revoked and the revoked visa physically canceled, the alien may apply for a new visa; however, they may not travel on the physically cancelled visa.

(3) (U) If at Stopover Location Revocation Appears Overcome: Upon interviewing the alien, should the stopover post conclude that the basis for revocation has been overcome, the alien is no longer ineligible, and the visa has not been physically cancelled, reinstatement of the visa in accordance with 9 FAM 403.11-6(A) above may be warranted.  The stopover post should inform the revoking post in detail of its findings, addressing an info copy to the Department (CA/VO/SAC).  Such a report could form the basis for reinstatement of the visa initiated by the revoking post or the stopover post, provided that it had the concurrence of the revoking post.  If posts have a difference of opinion, the case should be submitted to the Department (CA/VO/L/A for non-security related revocations or CA/VO/SAC for security, foreign policy, or human rights related revocations) for determination.  Should a determination to reinstate the visa be made, the revoking post, which may be presumed to hold the bulk of pertinent data on the case, would have the responsibility to take the reinstatement actions described above, and update and revise entries in CLASS.

Seeking legal counsel

Visa revocations, reinstatements, and waivers are complicated and case-specific. Individuals should get advice from an experienced immigration lawyer if they need legal advice about their visa status and their eligibility for admission to the United States.