The Department of Homeland Security revealed that in 2020, over half a million nonimmigrants overstayed their visas. When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a visa, they allow you to remain in the U.S. for a certain period. Once your authorized period of stay has expired, you must return to your country of origin. If you remain in the U.S. after the expiration date of your Form I-94, you have overstayed your visa. Overstaying your visa has significant consequences, including facing deportation and being barred from ever being allowed to enter the U.S. again. To avoid these severe consequences, contact a determined New Jersey Immigration Lawyer who can help you understand your legal options.
What could happen if you overstay your visa?
As briefly mentioned above, the date on your I-94 reveals the expiration of your visa. It is critical to note that the expiration date is not when you must leave the country. Instead, you must’ve exited the country before this date.
When you overstay your visa, it is considered unlawful presence. Staying in the U.S. without being admitted or approved for a period of authorized stay could result in being barred from entering the country. If your visa has expired and your cause is over 180 days of unlawful presence but less than one year during a single stay, the USCIS can bar you from entering the country for three years. If you have accrued more than one year of unlawful presence during a single visit, USCIS maintains the right to bar you from entering the country for ten years. Furthermore, USCIS can permanently ban you from entering the country if, after your visa has expired, you try to reenter without being admitted or paroled after accruing more than one year of unlawful presence during one stay.
Are there any valid reasons for unlawful presence?
Certain conditions allow some to avoid the consequences of unlawful presence. In most cases, you will not accrue unlawful presence in the U.S. during your period of overstay if you:
- Are a minor (under the age of 18).
- Are the beneficiary of the Family Unity Program.
- You have a legitimate asylum application.
- You have an adjustment of green card, change of status, or extension of status application pending with USCIS.
- You entered the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa because you were the victim of domestic violence or a battered child.
- You are a victim of human trafficking.
- You have received Temporary Protect Status (TPS), Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), Deferred Action, or Withholding of Removal under the Convention Against Torture.
- You entered the U.S. on a student visa.
Fortunately, if you can prove that you had valid reasoning for overstaying your visa, you can be issued a Waiver of Inadmissibility, preventing you from being barred from entering the U.S.
If you are facing unlawful presence, it is imperative to retain the legal services of a New Jersey immigration lawyer from The Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC today. Our firm is prepared to help you avoid the consequences of overstaying your visa.