You could be one of many U.S. Citizens who wished that your foreign fiancé(e) who had come to the United States on a J-1, F-1 or B-2 visa stayed in the United States, got married with you and would start an adjustment of status process to obtain a green card without leaving the United States. Your heart is broken when your foreign fiancé(e) returned to her or his home country with the expiration of a visa or completion of studies or training programs. In this case, one of popular options to bring your foreign fiancé(e) to the United States is to go through a K-1 visa process.

However, what if your foreign fiancé(e) has a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in his or her record while he or she stayed in the United States. Will it prevent your foreign fiancé(e) from obtaining a K-1 visa? A short answer is that a single DUI does not make a foreign fiancé(e) automatically inadmissible. A policy of the U.S. Department of State stipulates that an arrest or conviction of drunk driving is insufficient to automatically find an applicant inadmissible to receive a K-1 and other visas.

Instead, U.S. Embassies or Consulates are required to refer a foreign applicant to a panel of physicians to assess whether (1) there is a diagnosis of mental disorder (alcohol abuse) and (2) whether there is current harmful behavior or a history of harmful behavior related to the disorder that is likely to recur in the future. A K-1 visa applicant is also required to go through a medical examination in his or her home country prior to an Embassy or Consulate interview. Finding of no alcohol abuse by your foreign fiancée’s medical examination may fulfill both requirements. Your foreign fiancée is also required to submit a certified final disposition of the DUI case in the United States when he or she goes for an interview.

It is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney if you have a DUI conviction in the State of Illinois to review your fiancée’s DUI record before submitting a K-1 visa petition. Unlike the State of Wisconsin, a first DUI offense in Illinois entails both criminal penalties and prolonged license reinstatement process upon conviction.