Entry into the United States is never easy, and recent changes in immigration law have made it even more challenging. Deportation, or removal, is something many immigrants fear, especially if they are unlawfully present, and the consequences for skipping the steps of immigration inspection can be harsh.
If you have plans to come to the U.S., you may know that the process of obtaining a visa or green card is long and tedious. The wait can be exhausting, particularly if the conditions in your own country are dangerous or difficult. However, if you are considering coming to the U.S. without going through the legal channels, you should be aware of the risks you are taking.
Crossing into the U.S. without stopping at a border checkpoint is called entry without inspection. Despite increased border patrols, many come to the U.S. in this way. Improper entry is a crime, and if authorities arrest you, you may face time in jail and a fine as well as deportation without the benefit of any relief programs often extended to immigrants.
However, if you pass security and find a way to live in Kentucky or another state in the country, you are committing a civil offense called unlawful presence. A foreign national who overstays a visa is also committing unlawful presence, which simply means you do not have approval to remain in the country legally. As an unlawfully present individual, you risk detention in an immigration facility and deportation. You may also face the painful consequences of a bar to re-entry.
Barred from returning
If you are unlawfully present in the U.S. between 180 days and one year, either after entry without inspection or overstaying a visa, authorities may ban you from returning to the U.S. for three years, provided you leave the U.S. voluntarily. Remaining unlawfully for longer than one year can result in a 10-year ban from re-entry. If authorities deport you for unlawful presence, you risk a permanent ban on re-admission to the U.S.
These consequences can be devastating if you have family or other loved ones in the U.S. To be separated from them for as long as 10 years can have an unfathomable effect on your relationships. However, there are ways to avoid these consequences if you have the right assistance. You may benefit from seeking the advocacy of a compassionate and experienced immigration attorney who will guide you in pursuing the best options for your circumstances.