Law Office of Ronald A. Cabanayan
Law Office of
Ronald A. Cabanayan

DUI ~ Criminal Defense ~ Immigration/Naturalization

Justice Is On Your Side

Can someone be denied a visa because they suffer from a mental illness?

Mental disorders are no longer stigmatized the way they used to be. It’s much more common now for people to acknowledge that they need help and get the treatment they need than it used to be. 

But what if you have a family member who wants to immigrate to the U.S. who is being treated for a mental health issue? People who apply for visas have to answer a number of questions related to their physical and mental health. If they answer truthfully, which they’re required to, will they be denied a visa?

A disorder must be accompanied by harmful behavior

Under the policy of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a mental disorder only makes an applicant inadmissible if it’s associated with harmful behavior. According to the USCIS, harmful behavior is considered “behavior that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the applicant or others.”

If the mental disorder and harmful behavior are in the past, they’re only inadmissible if it’s determined that there’s likely to be a recurrence.

What is considered a ‘mental disorder’ and how could a DUI be relevant?

According to the USCIS, a mental disorder is any “currently accepted psychiatric diagnosis” included in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or other authoritative source.

It should be noted that the USCIS currently considers a person who’s been diagnosed with substance abuse or addiction to have a mental disorder. This includes alcohol and controlled substances. Therefore, if an applicant has been arrested for or convicted of driving under the influence, that could constitute “associated harmful behavior.”

Whether an applicant is determined to be inadmissible based on a DUI history will likely depend in part on how many incidents there have been, how serious they were and how long it’s been since the most recent one.

If you have a family member whom you believe has been wrongfully denied a visa based on a diagnosed mental disorder and harmful behavior, it may be wise to talk with an immigration attorney. They can provide advice and assistance.