Will My Tourist Visa Expire When I Apply for a U.S. Green Card

If a person enters the U.S. on a Visitor’s or Tourist Visa they are expected to leave the U.S. at a specific time. That timeframe is shown on the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, which can be accessed on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

Foreigners who believe they have some grounds on which they can apply for a Lawful Permanent Resident status might hope to simply stay in the U.S. while awaiting their pending green card application even after they were supposed to leave. Ultimately, an applicant’s goal would be to get their green card application process completed before their visitor visa expires.

Major Issues When Overstaying a U.S. Visa

The beneficiary of a U.S. Visitor’s Visa who overstays in the United States must understand that that visa will be nullified or automatically canceled as of the date they were scheduled to leave the U.S. However, if an extension was filed or a change of status is in process then there might be no need to worry. (See I.N.A. § 222(g), 8 U.S.C. § 1201(g).)

U.S. immigration laws are violated by remaining in the U.S. without taking the proper steps first, and most likely what’s known as "unlawful presence," will be accrued and that individual can be removed or will be subjected to future penalties.

To reiterate, in most cases, it is not good to allow a permitted stay to expire and then file an extension or change of status application for that will not get anyone a new nonimmigrant (temporary) status; or an adjustment of status application, to obtain U.S. lawful permanent residence (a green card).

What’s even more important is that an applicant will need to express valid reasons when petitioning for an extension for a tourist visa or even a new status. Submitting an insubstantial application will not give you the right to stay in the U.S.

The immigration laws are very strict when it comes to overstaying a U.S. visa and accumulating unlawful presence of 180 days or more. In such a case, voluntary departure is also an option after accruing unlawful presence and applying to return (whether on a visa or green card) would end in getting barred from reentering for three years. Overstaying for a year or more can result in getting barred from reentering for ten years. In some circumstances, there are waivers available.

What If You Have Identified Exceptions for Applying for a U.S. Green Card?

Identifying potential grounds upon which to apply for a legal immigration status in the U.S. is a key first step but speak with an Immigration Lawyer before proceeding. Restricted circumstances exist under which anyone can actually file their applications in the U.S. regardless of an overstay or history of unlawful presence.

Take for example, someone who marries a U.S. citizen becomes an immediate relative. This is one of the few grounds or exceptions in which applicants are allowed to apply for a green card in the U.S. through the process known as an Adjustment of Status.

Time to Get Advice From An Immigration Attorney

If you have any doubts about filing a U.S. Green Card application, talk to an Immigration Lawyer. It is in the best interest of the applicant to get the right advice before submitting an application for Lawful Permanent Residence. Contact Gambacorta Law Office today at 847 443 9303 for an appointment.