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Immigration & Naturalization Law

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Overstaying Your Visa

People visit the United States for various reasons, such as working, vacationing, visiting family, or getting married.

Many foreigners want to stay in the U.S. beyond their visa time limit. This is called “visa overstays.” Instead of taking the necessary steps or leaving and returning to the country, they take the risky step of exceeding their visa limit. This may bring them under surveillance and put them on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) radar.

However, no matter the reason, if you are under the protection of a visa and you exceed the time limit of days that a customs service official gave you at the port of entry into the country, the consequences can be serious.

Consequences of Overstaying Your Visa

It is never a reasonable option to exceed your visa and should be avoided where possible. It is best to seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney if you wish to extend your stay or if you have exceeded your visa.

A lawyer can properly advise you on the best way to avoid expulsion from the country and other serious repercussions.

For example, if you were planning to exceed your American visa to find a job and find an employer to sponsor you during the excess time, you will most likely end up being deported.

Exceeding the Time Limit of Your Visa

Typically, if you exceed your visa for more than 180 days, you will face removal proceedings to be deported from the U.S.

Additionally, if you stay over 180 days but less than a year, you will be inadmissible to enter the U.S. for three years after that time. If you exceed it by a year or more, you will be inadmissible for 10 years.

According to immigration law, if you exceed your visa for no more than 180 days, you must leave the U.S.

Upon arrival in your home country you can apply for a visa to return immediately. There are a few exceptions, but only in a small number of extreme situations.

Request an Extension of Your Stay

If you want to extend your stay on U.S. soil, the application must be started a substantial amount of time before your period of stay expires.

If it has already expired, you will be allowed to request an extension of the stay only if you can prove that:

  • The delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control
  • The delay time was reasonable
  • You have done nothing else to violate your nonimmigrant status (such as working without USCIS approval)
  • You are still a nonimmigrant. This means that you are not trying to obtain a “green card” for permanent residence from the United States, but there are some exceptions.
  • You are not involved in any formal procedures to be removed from the country

Your Best Option to Avoid Legal Trouble

The ideal situation would be to enter the United States, stay for the allowed number of days, and leave again. Some visitors might apply to become U.S. citizens. Others may choose to stay without a valid visa or attempt:

  • An illegal border crossing such as a border wall
  • Other forms of illegal entry
  • Hiding their temporary visa expiration
  • Staying as an illegal immigrant in the undocumented population
  • Seeking asylum from their country of origin

If you want to extend your stay, begin the procedures substantially in advance to complete the process before your authorized stay expires. If you get caught with an expired visa or illegal immigration, contact an attorney to help guide you.

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