Being in the United States under a temporary visa means you have to be mindful of how long you can stay in the country. Forgetting to check the expiration date of your visa is not a reasonable option, nor is staying on even after your visa has expired. The consequences of overstaying your visa can affect your life and your possibilities of ever coming back for many years to come.
Consequences of Overstaying Your Visa
If your visa is about to expire and you have done nothing to extend it, then you should seek the advice of an immigration lawyer as to what is the most convenient path for you to extend your visa and avoid being deported. You do not want to face these, or other even more severe repercussions.
Overstaying a Visa 180 Days or More
Staying in the United States for more than 180 days after your visa has expired puts you in a position where you can face removal proceedings with the aim of deporting you from the United States. And if you stayed on for longer than 180 days but less than a year, then you may be considered inadmissible to this country for three years. Anyone overstaying their visa for more than a year becomes inadmissible for ten years.
If you are still within the first 180 days after your visa has expired, then your best option is to voluntarily leave the U.S. and apply for a visa to return from your own embassy or consulate at home. If your home country does not have an American consulate that issues visas, then the Department of State will tell you what nearby country does.
Can you file for an extension to your visa?
If you want to be allowed to extend your stay in the U.S., then you should file while there is still a substantial amount of time left on your visa. Otherwise, if your visa has already expired, you must fall within any of these exceptions in order to be able to renew it:
- You must be able to prove that you were experiencing extraordinary circumstances that were beyond your control and prevented you from renewing your visa.
- You must have a reasonable explanation as to your delay in applying to renew.
- None of your actions have violated your non-immigrant status. For example, you have not sought employment without the approval of USCIS.
- You are not trying to become a permanent resident of the United States but are still a non-immigrant.
- There are no formal proceedings against you to remove you from the country.
Avoid Getting in Trouble Due to a Visa Overstay
If you want to be able to continue to come and enjoy your stay in the United States either as a tourist or with any other type of visa, then you should be careful with the visa you have now. Be mindful of its expiration date and, if you are unable to return to your country of origin now, take the needed steps to renew your visa with plenty of time. If you feel uncertain as to how to proceed, an immigration lawyer may guide you through this process. Otherwise, you may want to learn more about visa overstays and visa renewals in order to make the most appropriate decision for you.