Overstaying your visa is a criminal offense that attracts legal penalties. But why should you care about the consequences if your visa has expired? This article explains the consequences of extending your stay and how you can avoid them.
If you're found staying in the United States after your visa expires, you will be subject to removal or deportation from the country. Deportation is a formal process in which government agencies remove an immigrant from a country and send them back to their home country.
The agencies will launch removal proceedings against you, and you'll have to appear before an immigration judge. If the judge finds your stay illegal, they order your deportation and bar you from re-entry for a certain period. This ban will depend on how long you have extended your stay. Your immigration attorney is your top defensive line in such a case.
After deportation for overstaying your visa, the law also deems you inadmissible to the United States. Inadmissibility bans you from re-entering the country. Immigration authorities will place you on the Immigration and Nationality Act's inadmissible list and you will need to obtain a waiver to re-enter the United States in the future.
3. Unlawful Presence
Unlawful presence is the time you spend in the United States without legal status. You will gain this status when you extend your stay in the country once your visa expires. If you accrue more than 180 days of unlawful presence, the law subjects you to a 3-year bar from entering the United States.
If you accrue more than one year of unlawful presence, you will be subject to a 10-year bar from entering the United States. However, the law lifts the barring when your immigration attorney proves that your spouse or child would suffer extreme hardship if you weren't allowed to enter the United States.
4. Loss of Status
Overstaying your visa will lead to a loss of immigration status. The law no longer considers you a lawful permanent resident or a nonimmigrant. Instead, it considers you an undocumented immigrant and won't be eligible for many government benefits, including food stamps, welfare, and Medicaid. You will also not be eligible for many jobs, as most employers won't hire undocumented immigrants.
The best way to avoid overstaying your visa is by keeping track of the expiration date and leaving the country before the visa expires. You can also keep your passport up to date and renew your visa before it expires. If you need to extend your stay in the United States, your immigration attorney can help you file a petition with the immigration services.
If you have already overstayed your visa, you should contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible. An immigration attorney can help you understand your options and help you avoid deportation and other consequences of overstaying your visa.