Immigration Lawyers

Overstaying your US visa


What happens if I overstay my US visa?

If you have a B1/B2 visa to the US you can enter the United States for 6 months at a time while your visa is valid (normally 10 years). If you have a valid ESTA, you can enter the US for 90 days at a time. So what happens when you end up overstaying your US visa? Will you be allowed to leave the United States? Can you re-enter the US after overstaying? Is there a way to stay in the US legally after you visa had expired? Will you be banned from applying for future visas to the United States?

Overstaying your visa means your visa application is more likely to be denied \ will be denied automatically, depending on the length of the overstay, for a period of several years. You will have to apply for a waiver in order to have a chance of entering the US.

A US immigration lawyer can help deal with your overstay problem

Cases of overstaying your visa are complex and it is very important you have a full grasp of your immigration situation before you take action. For example, it could be detrimental to leave the US or to apply for a new visa in certain circumstances. It is important to have a US immigration lawyer who can help you with the process and advise you on what your next step should be.

Our office specializes in border entry, immigration, and US visas. We can help you find the correct course of action to retain your right to visit the United States, or, if necessary, apply for a waiver.

Valid reasons for overstaying your visa

There are exceptions for overstaying your visa in the US, but they are not relevant for the majority of people who overstayed their visa. Minors under the age 18, victims of human trafficking, battered spouses, asylum seekers and beneficiaries of family unity programs may, under certain circumstances, overstay their United States visa.

More recently, being unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic was occasionally accepted as a reason for overstay. However, as long as borders to your home country were open, it will be hard to prove that you couldn’t go back. If you can show that the regulations in your home country didn’t allow you to come home, your overstay may be accepted.

Leaving the United States

If you have overstayed your visa, you are allowed to leave the US. However, it is very important for you to consult a US immigration lawyer before leaving. Once you exit US borders, it can be very hard to receive a new visa and to enter at the border. You may be eligible for a visa extension or a Green Card application which can be applied for within the US. Many people leave the US temporarily for a family celebration or emergency and are then stuck outside of the US for years. You may have your whole life set up in the US and not be able to return to it.

Extending a B1/B2 visa when in the US

If you are currently in the US under a B1/B2 visa, you can apply for an extension of status in order to stay longer than 6 months. You should apply for the extension of status before the 6 month period is over so that you will not be visa-less for any period of time. USCIS specifically recommends applying at least 45 days before your visa expiration date.

One thing that people often don’t realize is that the amount of time you are allowed to stay in the US is listed on your I-94 form. This form is completed by the border control (CBP) when you enter the US. On this form you can see your status and how long your visa is valid. You are encouraged to check your I-94 form online every time you enter the US. This is important so that you can check there are no mistakes made by the border officer. It also allows you to know exactly what date overstaying your visa will start from.

Once you have checked your I-94 form record, you will know when to file the extension of status application.

Waiver Application – When Is It Needed?

  • If you overstay less than 180 days in one visit, you do not need a waiver in order to apply for a visa. However, it is very important that you complete your visa application accurately and declare the overstay period. There is also a higher likeliness of getting a denial for the visa application. The longer the overstay, the more likely you are to get denied.
  • If your overstay is over 180 days but less than a year in one visit, you are barred from entering the US and applying for a visa for 3 years. If you would like to apply for a visa within the 3 year period, you will need to apply for a waiver.
  • If your overstay is over one year in one visit, you are barred from entering the US and applying for a visa for 10 years. If you would like to apply for a visa within the 10 year period, you will need to apply for a waiver.

A waiver application is not granted automatically – you are required to proof the need \ justification for a waiver, as well as correctly fill out the waiver application.

Contact a US immigration expert at our office:

Our law office is able to assist with a range of immigration issues and help you make strategic decisions on how to achieve your goal of visiting or living in the US. Dealing with overstaying your visa is a very delicate matter and it’s important for you to have experienced professionals advising you. We can help you make your visa application, assist with your waiver application and consult you on what to do moving forward.

We will review the documentation you can provide on your background and ask you pointed questions to make sure we have the necessary information. We highly advise turning to us prior to applying for a new visa to avoid unnecessary denials and to make sure the forms are completed correctly. To arrange a consultation with our office, please contact us on 03-372-4722.

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