If you are in the United States and your visa has expired, you need to be aware of the repercussions you could be facing as a result of the lapse.
There are several questions that need to be addressed in order to figure out what consequences you can expect. First and foremost, contact an immigration attorney if you fear you may be deported. The immigration lawyers at the firm of the Law Group of Iowa are experienced in immigration proceedings and the ever-changing laws. They can best advise you of your next steps.
Understand the date you were supposed to leave the U.S.
You should be in possession of a Form I-94, the arrival/departure record. The date on this document is the date you were required to leave. Do not use the expiration date that is on your visa. That date is the latest date you could use that visa to come into the U.S. Take your I-94 and figure the departure date counting from that date.
If you are here on a student visa, your I-94 probably says ‘D/S” as the status of duration. That means you can stay as long as you are still in school according to the visa’s terms. The overstay starts when you are not in school.
What is Unlawful Presence and How is it Accrued?
If you are in this country for any of the following reasons, you are not accruing ‘unlawful presence’ time. You:
- filed an official application pending asylum with the USCIS
- are under 18 years of age
- are waiting for your filed application for a status change or extension to go through
- came to this country when the family unity program was in effect
- Arrived in this country as a victim of sex trafficking and that is the main reason for the unlawful presence
Penalties for Unlawful Presence Time Accrued
There are basically three types of penalties the U.S. can impose if you have overstayed your visa.
- If you have overstayed less than one year but more than six months, and you leave the country without the help of ICE or any formal authority, you will not be able to get back into the US for three years.
- If you are in this country for more than a year continuously, but leave before any formal deportation procedures are brought against you, you will not be able to come to the U.S. for ten years.
- If it has been more than one year, or you are formally deported and then try to enter the U.S. again by sneaking across the border, once you are caught, you will be permanently deported. Once you have been out of the country for ten years you may be allowed to apply for a U.S. green card or visa.
There are some exceptions to coming back to the U.S. If you can prove that without you in the U.S. your U.S. spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship. You may be allowed to apply for a provisional waiver at the U.S. consulate.
Consult an Attorney
The ability to legally stay with your spouse or family is too important not to seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney. The lawyers at the Law Group of Iowa work to stay abreast of all changes to immigration law and can help explain the next steps in your situation. Contact a top immigration lawyer to receive legal help with your case now.