Every visa gives someone a limited amount of time to stay in the United States, and overstaying a visa is taken quite seriously by the authorities. Getting caught can even affect your ability to immigrate to the United States in the future. If you are serious about one day becoming a citizen, this is a crime you need to avoid committing. If you do end up overstaying your visa, you must have a good reason for it. A green card immigration lawyer in NYC can tell you more about how to avoid any confusion or harsh consequences.

What Does Overstaying a Visa Mean?

Overstaying a visa means that you continued to spend time in the United States once your visa had expired. Every visa expires. The date on yours should be clear and there is no good reason to ignore that date.

If you want to extend your stay in the United States, you must file the right forms and requests in a timely manner. You may also be able to change your status. Just hoping for a successful extension or status change is not enough though. You must take care of the proper paperwork, preferably with the help of a lawyer, to make sure that you are not punished for overstaying.

What Are Punishments for Overstaying a Visa?

The punishments for overstaying a visa can be devastating for anyone who wants to become a United States citizen. This is because the penalties are primarily designed to keep anyone who overstays from coming back into the country at all. How severely you are punished depends on how long you overstayed a visa:

180 days to one year: You will not be allowed to enter the United States again for three years.

One year or more: You will not be able to obtain a visa for 10 years.

You could also face fines and jail time for ignoring a final order of removal.

How Can I Avoid These Penalties for Overstaying a Visa?

You can avoid these penalties by ensuring that you do not overstay a visa in the first place. It also helps to keep documentation. You should:

  • Know exactly when your visa expires
  • Keep any relevant paperwork together
  • Be sure to exit the country before your visa expires, even if you are trying to adjust your immigration status
  • Keep evidence of you leaving the country on time, like boarding passes and a stamped passport

If you follow instructions and keep all of your documents together, it can be hard to accuse you of overstaying a visa.

Contact Our Immigration Lawyers

If you have any questions about your visa, applying for asylum, or anything else related to immigration, our law firm may be able to help you. Contact The Law Offices of Cheryl R. David and schedule an appointment. We can look at your situation and figure out the best path forward.