FAQ: Can I Overstay My Visa?

A visa is a legal immigration document that allows entrance to the United States. Visas typically allow someone to stay in the U.S. for a specific period of time. After that time period is over, the person is no longer legally allowed to remain in the country. If you have a visa you may wonder, can I overstay my visa? If you stay in the United States after your visa expires, you are no longer have legal authority to remain, and could be deported.

Understanding Unlawful Presence in the United States

Anyone who spends time in the United States without proper documentation is here unlawfully. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), calculates time spent in the U.S. without authority. This time is called unlawful presence. Unlawful presence accrues any time you are in the country without a visa. Penalties for overstaying a visa vary and may be based on unlawful presence time.

Exemptions to Unlawful Presence Accrual

Any time that you spend in the United States without authorization accrues. There are some exceptions to this rule. Each visa has its own rules on how long after the visa expires before you need to depart. Also, minors are not subject to unlawful presence accrual. Those who are victims of serious crimes, such as trafficking or battering, do not accrue time. Also, those who have received temporary protected status are exempt. If you are unsure whether you are accruing time it is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer.

Keeping Track of Arrivals and Departures

It is essential to depart and arrive in the U.S. using the proper documentation. The USCIS keeps track of your date of arrival based on the actual date that you entered the country. This date may be different than the date that is on your visa. It is necessary to extend your visa plenty of time before it is due to expire.

Penalties for Overstaying Your Visa

The law does not allow people to stay in the U.S. past the time allowed on their visa. Once you overstay your visa you begin to accrue unlawful presence time. There are penalties for overstaying your visa. The penalties are based on the length of time that the immigrant overstayed. An accrual of 164 to 180 days results in being barred from returning to the U.S. for a period of three years. If you overstay by more than 365 days, you will be barred for 10 years.

It may be possible to adjust your status so that you are allowed to remain in the U.S. legally. If you have questions about immigration, contact the skilled lawyers at Udall Shumway PLC to discuss your situation.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Can I Overstay My Visa, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at 480.461.5330, log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.