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How can the U.S. tell if I overstay my visa?

By August 14, 2023May 23rd, 2024No Comments

Lafayette, Louisiana, and the entire U.S. enjoys welcoming people of all origins for professional and employment purposes. However, there can be significant consequences for individuals who overstay their visas.

Some of the consequences can include deportation and even a permanent ban on re-entry. If you are visiting the U.S., it’s important to understand how the U.S. government tracks visa overstays and what you can do to stay compliant.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at visas and how they work. Then we’ll discuss how overstays are tracked, and what the consequences are for overstaying. For these reasons, it’s important to use an experienced immigration attorney like ours at The Jones Law Partners to navigate the complex landscape of visas.

Visa Basics in Louisiana

Understanding the fundamentals of what visas are and how they work is going to be vital to understanding how the U.S. can tell if you overstay.

Let’s start by looking at the two primary types of visas: immigrant and non-immigrant.

  • An immigrant visa is given to individuals who have a goal of permanent residency and employment in the U.S.
  • Non-immigrant visas, on the other hand, are granted to those who intend to stay in the U.S. temporarily, or for a specific purpose, like work or school.

Every visa comes with an expiration date. The expiration date of the visa defines the longest amount of time that you are permitted to remain in the country. If you are found to have stayed beyond this date, knowingly or unknowingly, you are considered an “overstayer.”

Tracking Visa Overstays: The I-94 Form

The primary method of tracking visa overstays is with the I-94 form, which is an official U.S. government Arrival & Departure Record.

When you enter the U.S. initially, a border officer will stamp your I-94 form. This stamp shows your date of entry and your authorized length of stay, and the officer may also manually note the date by which you must leave the country.

Upon your departure from the U.S., the border officer will collect your I-94 form. This is the official proof that you have left the country within the authorized period. If you fail to submit an I-94 form the government will simply assume this is because you overstayed.

Penalties for Overstaying Your Visa

There is a wide range of penalties for overstaying a visa. Let’s take a look at the top 3 consequences:

  1. Deportation: One of the biggest risks of overstaying is the risk of deportation, as well as adding a record of the visa overstay to your permanent record.
  2. Visa Cancellation: Overstaying on a visa causes it to be automatically canceled, which then makes it impossible to extend your stay legally, or change your legitimate visa status.
  3. Inadmissibility: Individuals who overstay their visas by more than 180 days, but less than one full year may be barred from re-entry for 3 years. Overstaying by more than a year can result in a 10-year ban on re-entering the country.

The best ways to avoid overstays of any length are to understand your visa conditions; monitor your stay; and extend or adjust your status before the deadline.

Get Immigration Law Help From Jones Law Partners

Staying compliant with the terms of your visa is critical to maintaining its validity. Reach out to Jones Law Partners today to get started with a consultation about your case. Our team can provide you with the answers and guidance you need to navigate U.S. immigration laws successfully.

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