Every year millions of tourists travel to the United States to visit family and friends or even enter the country to receive medical attention. However, many wind up staying in the U.S. longer than their period of authorized stay. This is called “overstaying.” Every foreigner who enters the U.S. must learn how to avoid an overstay, the penalties of overstaying (in terms of its impact on their ability to return to the U.S.) and how it is sometimes possible to reenter the U.S. after an overstay.
How Do I Know When I have Overstayed My Time in the U.S.
One reason that many people overstay is since they do not know the difference between two of the essential documents that show expiration dates, namely the visa and the Form I-94. Therefore, they end up unintentionally overstaying.
A U.S. visa is simply an entry document that grants authorization to be allowed entry in the country at a U.S. border, airport, or other port of entry. (Take note that a border agent can deny anyone entry into the U.S. even if you are the holder of a valid U.S. visa). A visa might be valid for several years which may also permit for multiple entries. This does not mean that an individual can stay in the U.S. until the visa expires. Every visitor who enters the U.S. must abide by the time frame allotted on the Form I-94. In previous years the Form I-94 was a paper card given to all foreigners when entering the U.S., by the border officer who processed their documents. Form I-94 is readily accessible on the Customs and Border Protection website.
If I have Overstayed an I-94, Will I Be Permitted to Enter the U.S. Again?
Staying longer than the normal time granted on the I-94 can result in serious problems. This is specifically true if the overstay was over several months.
Why a Longer Overstay is Quite Troublesome
Overstaying by 180 days or more (but less than one year), after you leave the U.S. will get you barred from returning for three years. If you overstayed by one year or more, after you depart the U.S., it will get you barred from reentering the U.S. for ten years. This is because unlawful presence is one of the many U.S. grounds of inadmissibility with some serious penalties.
Can a Short Overstay Become Problematic
If you overstay for less than 180 days, leaving the U.S. might not prompt any bars to reentry. If you have a visa that is still valid you can go ahead and book your travel tickets to the U.S. It is always advisable to talk with an immigration lawyer if you are unsure whether your time overstayed can bring about any problems.
Time to Talk with an Immigration Attorney
Regardless of how long you have overstayed, consult with an immigration law expert. Call the Gambacorta Law Office today at 847 908 4913 and our team of attorneys will advise and help you see if you accrued unlawful presence in the U.S.