If you come to America to live and don’t have permanent residency, you have to be cautious about the length of time you’re allowed to stay on your visa. If you overstay on an expired visa, it is possible that you could face serious repercussions that could potentially hurt your chances of coming to the U.S. permanently.
It is possible to face consequences such as prosecution or deportation if you overstay your visa in certain cases. However, you may have options to help you stay in the country or to leave before you face consequences.
What happens if your visa expires and you haven’t left the country?
The first thing to ask yourself is how long you’ve stayed past the visa’s expiration. If you’ve only overstayed by a day or two and are able to leave the country quickly, many border officers will be willing to forgive that lapse. It’s better to avoid doing this if you can because there is no guarantee that the lapse will go unnoticed.
If you stay in the United States for 180 days or longer past the visa expiration, then you will be prevented from reentering for at least three years from the date you left the country. For longer overstays, you could face a ban of up to 10 years.
Options for staying in the United States
If you want to remain in the United States, it’s appropriate to try to change your status or extend your stay. For example, if you get married while in the United States, you may be able to apply to remain in the country as a permanent resident and to change your current nonimmigrant status. If you were a student before and have been offered a permanent work position, you may be able to receive a sponsorship to remain in the U.S. In the case that it’s dangerous to return to your home country, you may also want to consider seeking asylum to ask to remain in the country.
There are many options for staying in the U.S., but they aren’t all available to all people. It’s valuable to look into the ways you could change your status before your visa expires, so you have the best chance at a successful application.