The American government takes immigration very seriously. If you stay in the country past the assumed departure date under the terms of your U.S. visa, you may face certain consequences. For example, your visa will become voided automatically and you also won’t be able to apply for a new one at any consulate other than the one of your home country.
You also might not be allowed to come back to the USA for several years, depending on how long you overstayed your visa. So what happens if you overstay your visa? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
How Long Were You Supposed to Stay?
First off, it’s important that you know exactly when you were expected to leave the country. This is going to be the date shown on your Departure Record/Form I-94 Arrival. This is going to be a different date than when your visa is set to expire.
That expiration date is simply to let you know the last date that you can use your visa to get into the country. So you have to go by the date on your I-94.
If you came into the United States as a student, your Departure Record will likely say “D/S.” This stands for “duration of status.” This means that your overstay starts when you stop complying with the terms of your visa or stop being a student. However, it’s important to point out that a student can really become an “unlawful presence,” unless a judge deems them to be.
Are You an Unlawful Presence?
It’s easier to describe what unlawful presence is not rather than what it is. You won’t accrue unlawful presence when and if you:
- Had a pending asylum application on file with USCIS
- had a pending application for either a change of status, an extension of status, or a green card (adjustment of status)
- Were of a victim of human trafficking and can show that this was one of the main reasons for your unlawful presence
- Were under 18 years old
- Were a beneficiary of the Family Unity program (this is for relatives of people who got green cards in the 1980s under the amnesty program)
- Were a battered child or spouse who entered on a nonimmigrant visa and can show that the abuse is related to why you overstayed
- Have been granted protections via Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), Withholding of Removal under the Convention Against Torture, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or Deferred Action.
Anyone else who overstayed their permitted time in the USA is likely an unlawful presence and their overstayed time can be held against them.
Time Bars for Accruing Unlawful Presence in the U.S.
When you overstay your US visa and accrue unlawful presence, there are three levels of penalties. Some of the penalties can result in you being permanently banned from ever entering the country again.
If you accrue unlawful presence for over 180 days but less than a full year, you won’t be allowed to enter the US again for three years. This is also assuming you leave the country before any formal or official deportation procedures were instituted against you.
If you accrue unlawful presence for at least a year, you won’t be allowed to come back into the country for ten years. This is again assuming that you left the country before any deportation procedures were instituted against you.
If you are deported from the United States and attempt to illegally sneak across the border, you will be banned from entering the country permanently. This also applies if you overstayed your US visa for more than one year and try to enter the country without inspection.
You won’t be able to apply for any waivers other than the one for VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioners. However, after waiting for ten years, you can request special permission so that you can apply for a green card or US visa.
It’s worth pointing out that the consequences listed above are only if you leave the country and then try to come back. Sometimes, a person who is eligible for a green card can avoid these time bars by adjusting their status while they’re still in the United States.
If you or someone you know is currently undergoing the deportation process, it’s worth knowing about immigration bonds. Immigration bonds work a lot like standard bail bonds.
As long as the person is being detailed for civil purposes and not criminal ones (being detained simply for being in the country illegally is not considered a criminal case), you can bail them out of detainment. During this time, while they await their trial, they can have the opportunity to live at home and remain a part of their community.
Any person who is legally allowed to be in the United States can pay the bail bond. And bail bond agents are available all day every day of the year. And they’re available nationwide.
Why It’s So Important to Know What Happens if You Overstay Your Visa
By knowing what happens if you overstay your visa, you can better avoid having to deal with these harsh consequences. And if you do end up overstaying your visa, you now know what your rights are and what kind of punishments you can expect.
Do you have a loved one who is currently being detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office? Contact us today and see how we can help you!