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What happens if you overstay your visa?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2023 | Immigration Law |

Overstaying a visa in the United States is a serious matter with various immediate and long-term consequences. It’s crucial to understand what you’re up against if you find yourself in this situation, especially since U.S. immigration laws have grown increasingly stringent in recent years.

The moment your authorized stay expires, you become an overstay. This triggers a host of penalties under U.S. law. These repercussions can range from being barred from re-entering the U.S. for a certain period to facing deportation proceedings.

Accumulation of unlawful presence

From the day after your visa expires, you start accruing unlawful presence in the United States. Accumulating more than 180 days but less than a year of unlawful presence and then leaving the country will make you inadmissible for three years. If you accumulate a year or more of unlawful presence, the bar to re-entry extends to 10 years.

Potential for deportation

Overstaying your visa makes you deportable, which means you could be removed and sent back to your home country. Deportation proceedings are stressful and expensive. Additionally, being deported can result in a ban on re-entry for several years or even for life, depending on the circumstances.

Impact on future visa applications

Consular officers take visa violations very seriously and may deny your subsequent visa applications. Even if you’re not barred from re-entry, the stain on your immigration record can make obtaining a new visa more challenging.

Limited relief options

Overstayers often find that their options for legal relief are limited. For example, you may become ineligible for certain immigration benefits, such as the ability to adjust your status from within the U.S. In some cases, you’ll need to leave the country and apply for a new visa from abroad, but you’ll still have to contend with any re-entry bars that apply due to your overstay. Understanding your options can help you make decisions you feel are in your best interest.