What to do if You Accidentally Overstayed on a Visit Visa in US
When you travel to USA on a visitor visa, there will be visa expiration date mentioned on the I-94 Form. If you stay in the US beyond that expiration date, it is known as overstaying. You might have to face severe consequences for this, such as being denied a change of status, the current visa being voided or you might be restricted from returning to the US for up to 3 to 10 years.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. You don’t have to face 3 to 10 years of restriction if you are underage, meaning less than 18 years of age, you have pending asylum application filed with the USCIS, pending case filed for change of status or adjustment of status with the USCIS, you are a recipient of the family unity program or you have received protection through the Deferred Enforced Departure, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action, says an article on NOLO. Moreover, if you are a victim of human trafficking and you can show evidence for it, you will not have to face adverse consequences of overstaying in the US.
However, if you are subject to permanent restriction, these exceptions might not apply.
Time Bars for Overstaying
Penalties for overstaying your US visa can be divided into three levels and unlawful presence in US can lead to you being debarred temporarily or permanently from the US.
It’s a great idea to get Travel/Medical insurance when traveling to USA. As medical cost (even for the common cold) can run into hundreds of dollars in the US, it is recommended that you get good medical insurance, before your trip. Good thing is that if you buy it online before your trip, it may be cheaper. Compare & find a good plan here.
- If you overstay for more than 180 days but less than a year and leave the country before any official procedure or deportation, you will be banned from re-entering the country for 3 years.
- If you live in the US for 365 consecutive days after your visa has expired and then leave the country, without any official procedures being initiated against you, you will be debarred from re-entering the United States for 10 years.
- If you have unlawfully lived in the US for more than a year in total or you have been deported and you have been caught trying to sneak through the borders, your entry into the United States will be permanently banned.
However, you can save yourself from these time bars by filing for a change of the status of your visa with the USCIS.
You will need to submit all necessary documents and schedule an interview. But, if you have illegally entered the borders of the US previously, you cannot apply for an adjustment status. You can check all the relevant details about filing a petition with the USCIS on their official website.
Overstaying on a visitor visa is an unlawful activity and you can face serious repercussions. However, these can be alleviated with some legal help. If you want to remain in America legally after you have overstayed your visit visa, you can consider applying for a waiver and consult an expert immigration lawyer. An expert can evaluate your situation, help you with the procedure of filing for a change of status with the USCIS and attaining the waiver. The earlier you get legal help, the less repercussions you are likely to have to face.