Your reasons for coming to the U.S. may be the same as many who enter the country through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Perhaps you are here to study, work or travel, and you obtained a visa for that purpose. It is possible it was not your original intention to immigrate here but only to take advantage of the opportunity presented to you.
Has your course of study or employment come to an end? Are you finished visiting the sights you came here to see? It is possible that your visa is also ready to expire, or perhaps it already has. If you have not taken the appropriate steps to return to your country or lawfully extend your stay in the U.S., you may be facing the consequences of your unlawful status
Penalties and options
Overstaying a visa is the most common reason for unlawful presence in the United States. Some visa holders extend their stay to continue working or hope to find a good job after completing their studies. Perhaps you lost track of time or simply fell in love with Kentucky and wanted to stay. Whatever your reason for remaining beyond the expiration of your visa, you have a serious problem that you must deal with as quickly as possible. Waiting too long may result in any of the following penalties:
- Once you leave the U.S., the government will bar you from returning for three years if you remain here longer than 180 days past the expiration of your visa.
- If you stay longer than one year past your visa expiration, you will not qualify for a subsequent visa for 10 years.
- If you have received official notice to leave the U.S. but you remain, you are at risk of arrest and prison for as long as four years.
You do have options, however. For example, you may request an extension of your visa. You may also consider changing the status of your visa. This means that if you originally came as a student, for example, you can apply for a work or travel visa.
Each type of visa has its unique rules, qualifications and limitations, so you will want to learn as much as you can before beginning the process. With the climate of the country so volatile concerning immigration policies, you would be wise to have sound legal representation when dealing with the USCIS or any government agency.