What Happens if I Overstay My Visa?

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For many foreigners, coming to the United States is a dream to live and work. However, when this dream finally becomes a reality, it can be difficult for them to return to their home country as they have experienced what life could be like if they permanently resided in the U.S. When a foreign national is issued a visa, they typically are only authorized to stay in the U.S. for a certain period. Once their authorized period of stay expires, they must leave the country. It’s common for foreign-born individuals to wonder what could happen if they overstay their visas. Please continue reading to learn about the potential consequences of overstaying your visa and how a competent New Jersey Immigration Lawyer can help you today. 

What is unlawful presence?

When you overstay a visa, you will likely be considered unlawfully present in the U.S. Essentially, unlawful presence is when you reside in the U.S. without being admitted or paroled. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), there are two different types of unlawful presence:

  • Remaining in the U.S. without first being paroled or lawfully admitted
  • Staying in the U.S. beyond the time allotted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

If you do not leave the country by the “admit until date” you’ve been issued, you will face severe consequences as you violate U.S. immigration laws.

Will I be penalized if I overstay my visa?

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to understand the difference between the visa expiration date and the length of time an individual is permitted to stay in the U.S. As a result, many individuals end up overstaying their visas. When you receive a visa, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will determine the length of your visit upon arriving at a port of entry. On your admission stamp or Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record), it will stipulate an admitted-until date or “D/S” (duration of status). If one of these methods contains a specific date, then that is the date by which you must leave the United States.

If you stay beyond the period authorized by the DHS, you will violate U.S. immigration law. As a result, you will face harsh consequences. Firstly, your visa will automatically be voided. In addition, you will be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travel to the U.S. Ultimately, overstaying your visa is grounds for inadmissibility into the U.S. Depending on how many days of unlawful presence you’ve accused, you could remain negligible to return to the U.S. for three years, ten years, or in extreme cases forever. Therefore, it’s crucial to adhere to immigration procedures and depart the country as per the designated timeline.

If you’ve overstayed your visa, don’t panic just yet. Contact the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC, to learn how we can help you today. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be eligible for visa overstay forgiveness.

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