Could I Reenter the U.S. If I Overstay My Visa?

closeup of visa

Could I Reenter the U.S. If I Overstay My Visa?

Non-American citizens can enter the United States under a visa. Each type of visa has its own set of requirements and a set length of time that the person is allowed to stay in the country before they must leave. However, foreign nationals are not picked up by immigration at the time they are expected to leave the country, so occasionally, people overstay their visas. If you realize you’ve overstayed your visa, it’s critical to consult an attorney immediately.

People Can Accidentally Overstay Their Visas

Paperwork can be tedious and even difficult to understand, especially if you aren’t from the country that issued your papers. One of the number one reasons visitors end up inadvertently overstaying their visas is due to confusion between the visa and Form I-94. 

Form I-94 stipulates the exact dates that a visitor is allowed to remain in the United States. Foreign nationals are expected to leave the country on or before the expiration date on Form I-94. Many people erroneously assume that they are permitted to stay in the United States as long as their visa is valid. This cannot be further from the truth. 

Your visa is an entry document; think of it as a train or a plane ticket. You can use it any time you enter the country while it’s valid, but it’s not descriptive of much else. Many people assume that the expiration date on their visa is the length of time they are allowed to stay. These people may end up with unexpected consequences when they leave the United States after an overstay. 

What Happens if Someone Overstays in the United States?   

If you overstay your visa, you’ll likely be subject to penalty. The penalties for overstaying your visa will vary depending on how long you’ve stayed. If you overstay less than 180 days, leaving the United States won’t trigger immigration to bar you from re-entry. If you exceed your stay by more than 180 days but less than 365 days, you will be barred from re-entering the United States for three years. If you exceed your legal stay by more than a year, you may be prohibited from re-entry for ten years.

If you overstay your visa and you are barred from re-entry, border control officers will be able to see that you overstayed. Regardless of legal immigration documents you have obtained before entry, immigration offers are allowed to deny you entry to the country at their discretion. If the immigration officer has any reason to believe you may overstay your visa again, you may be denied.

For this reason, it’s important to apply for a visa extension if you suspect you’ll need to overstay your visa for any reason. Overstaying your visa may jeopardize your ability to return to the country in the future if you don’t go through the proper channels.

Have You Overstayed Your Visa? Consult an Attorney Immediately

For more information about immigration law or to speak to a trusted deportation lawyer in PA, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team today!