Foreign travelers who enter the United States lawfully but go on to overstay their visas face steep penalties. Remaining in the U.S. past your expected departure date can cause your visa to be immediately voided.
Overstaying your visa can also prevent you from applying for a new visa at a consulate outside your country of origin in the future. Some foreigners are even banned from entering the United States for any number of years, depending upon how long they have overstayed their visa.
Penalties for Visa Overstays
Your potential consequences for overstaying a temporary visa depend upon two primary factors:
How Long Did You Overstay?
Your expected departure date is listed on your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. It is important to note this date is not the same as your visa expiration date, which is the last date you can use your visa to enter the United States.
Students are generally permitted to remain in the country until they commence studying or meet the terms of their visa.
Did You Accrue Unlawful Presence?
Whether or not your overstay will keep from being legally admissible in the future depends on whether you accrued “unlawful presence.” If your overstay was more than six months, you most likely accrued unlawful presence, though there are some exceptions to this rule.
Depending on the duration of your unlawful presence, you can be banned from returning to the United States for three years, ten years, or even permanently.
Data on Visa Overstays
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a staggering 600,000 foreign travelers overstayed their visas last year. Surprisingly, that is only a small percentage of the total number of foreign visitors who legally entered the country that year: 1.15 percent, to be exact. Once they overstay their visas, those 600,000 foreign-born visitors became undocumented immigrants eligible for deportation.
Shortly after taking office, the President signed an executive order that, in part, asked Congress to tighten up the entry-exit process for foreign nationals visiting the United States. Fingerprints, iris scans, and other technology and data are now used to track visitors to the U.S.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Clients with Visa Overstays
In many cases, consequences for visa overstays can be avoided by adjusting your status while you are still in the United States. Your Philadelphia immigration lawyer at Surin & Griffin, P.C. can determine if you may be eligible to have your status adjusted. If you are, we work on your behalf to submit all the necessary documentation to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Immigration policies are becoming more prohibitive than ever before. We thoroughly assess your immigration matter and offer sound legal counsel based on your situation. Call 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Based in Center City, we are proud to represent clients in and around the city of Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania.