When a person with a temporary visa fails to depart from the United States on their corresponding departure date or failed to renew their visa when it expired indicates that the individual is now overstaying. A visa overstay is often attached to legal consequences for the overstayer. This would usually depend on the extension of stay – whether a day or a year.
Although the most common reason why overstaying happens is due to forgetting their departure date or misinterpreting their visa expiration with their exit date, some actually stay intentionally. However, regardless of the reasons, legal penalties still exist. This is why overstayers opt to find help through immigration attorneys.
Are Immigration Attorneys Needed?
This would depend on the client’s knowledge about the immigration law and if it is sufficient enough to support his or her situation. If the dilemma seems to be way beyond the client’s understanding, then they need to hire a lawyer to help them with these legal issues. This is a good strategy especially when the client is asked to take the case in the immigration court.
If blessed with an opportunity, a visa overstay can be avoided by adjusting the client’s status while they are still in the United States. Surin & Griffin, P.C. which houses Philadelphia immigration lawyers can distinguish whether the client is eligible to have his or her status adjusted. They work in behalf of the client to submit all forms and necessary documentations to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
You can also find particular immigration lawyers where you can specify your certain needs for support and dilemmas. They can also hand you with options and let you evaluate them before the violation occurs. An immigration lawyer can help you with the requirements needed to be able to remain in the U.S. legally and also if you have already overstayed.
How Do I Avoid Overstaying My Visa?
Apart from helping the overstayer from legal consequences, immigration attorneys can also counsel them on how to avoid another overstay. To prevent it, one must be well-aware about the difference between a visa and Form I-94. This happens often and results to unintentional overstaying.
Visa vs. I-94
A visa is a document that permits the tourist or a non-citizen to find admission into the United States. It does not actually guarantee an easy entry because the border officer can still decline the applicant even if the valid visa is possessed. However, once granted, this may be valid for several years.
Now, the misunderstanding is often the visa expiration date being perceived as their departure date. The sole purpose of a visa is that it allows you to enter the United States during that time period and not the length of stay. This is where the Form I-94 takes place.
The Form I-94 is the one that determines and proves that the applicant is indeed lawfully staying in the United States. This is given by a border officer wherein he or she will enter a required departure date. The exit date written on the Form I-94 is the last day the non-citizen is permitted to remain in the U.S. With this in mind, the foreigner must be able to depart the U.S. by the date written on the form and not on their visa. Failure to leave the country, even just for a day, will still be counted as an overstay.
In determining the different between this two, unintentional overstayers may be prevented. However, if overstaying is already the client’s situation, it is recommended to discuss this with a qualified immigration lawyer to properly address legal matters and avoid conflicts if ever faced at an immigration court.