Visa Revocation vs. Visa Cancellation

People often wonder what reasons are behind the cancellation or revocation of a visa previously issued.

The fact that a visa has been cancelled does not necessarily indicate anything negative about the visa holder. A visa may be cancelled because there has been a clerical or similar error. Example: The person was approved for an “X” visa, but the visa foil in the passport says “Y” visa. These errors and other needs for correction are actually quite common. Think of incorrect birth dates, where the date format in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. can be confusing. If someone’s birthday is April 12, 1968, his DOB can be written as “04/12/1968″ or “12-04-1968″, depending on which date format is used. (did the applicant possibly put his/her birth date on the application form in the wrong date format?)

Embassy staff may also cancel a visa if the visa holder gets a new visa in a new passport, but has a valid visa of the same kind, not yet expired, in the old passport. Non-immigrant visas of aliens deemed inadmissible at a port of entry may also be cancelled. You will sometimes find CBP officers at the port-of-entry cancelling visas, especially in cases where visas may only provide for a SINGLE entry, rather than the customary “multiple” entries, usually encountered on visas.

The fact that a visa has been revoked may or may not indicate something negative about the visa holder. A consular officer will revoke a visa when he or she determines that:

• the alien is ineligible to receive a visa or enter the United States for health, criminal, security, or other serious reasons;
• the alien no longer qualifies for the particular visa;
• the alien has been issued an immigrant visa (IV); or
• the visa has been physically removed from the passport in which it was issued.

What happens when a U.S. visa is revoked?

A consular officer can only revoke a visa on the basis of such a determination if the traveler is outside the United States, or if his or her whereabouts are unknown. When a consular officer revokes a visa, the embassy or consulate informs the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security through designated channels. The consular officer also is responsible for informing all local transportation companies about the visa revocation to prevent the traveler from embarking on a flight to the United States.

CBP Officers working at U.S. ports of entry are also informed electronically of the visa revocation through the following databases; Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), Consular Lookout Automated System (CLASS) and through the Treasury Enforcement Communication System (TECS) in case the traveler arrives seeking admission into the United States.

The Secretary of State (via a consular officer) can also revoke a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of whether the alien is in the United States, and an immigrant visa if the alien has not entered the United States in immigrant status. Such revocation is generally on prudential grounds such that the alien would have to appear before a consular officer to establish eligibility for a visa before being permitted to apply for entry to the United States.

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