In some cases, foreign nationals travel to the U.S. on a work, school, or visitor’s visa, and then decide for various reasons to stay in the country past their visa expiration dates. Individuals should understand the potential consequences and harsh penalties for a visa overstay before they make the decision to overstay. Once their visas expire, they are unlawfully present in the country.
Consequences for Visa Overstays
Once you have overstayed your visa by 180 days, you start to be subject to penalties by federal immigration authorities. The penalties for an overstay depend upon the length of the stay following the expiration of the visa. If your overstay ranges between 180 days and one year past the expiration of your visa, the U.S. government can ban you from reentering the country for three years following your departure. If you overstay your visa by more than one year, then you may be banned from reentry for ten years. A lengthy ban on reentry into the U.S. can be very harsh for individuals who have family members in the U.S. or who had planned on continuing attending school or working in the U.S.
The penalties become harsher if you refuse to leave after an immigration court has issued a final order of removal for you. If you are caught in the U.S. following a final order of removal, then you could face criminal charges and substantial fines.
There are some exceptions that can stop or toll the length of your unlawful presence in the country that may apply to your situation. For instance, if you are under 18 at the time that you are unlawfully present, you have a valid and pending asylum petition on file with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or you have a pending application for adjustment of status, the duration of your overstay may not increase until after these matters are resolved.
The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any type of relief or benefit under federal immigration laws, regardless of your situation. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your case. It is our intention to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.