The excitement of traveling to the United States quickly turns to anxiety when you realize your B-1/B-2 visitor visa is about to expire, or worse, has already expired.
Overstaying your visa could lead to serious consequences.
Each day you remain in the U.S. beyond your visa expiration date counts as “unlawful presence.” The more unlawful presence you accrue, the greater the consequences you may face. These consequences can even include being banned from re-entering the U.S. for long periods.
For example, if you leave the U.S. after accumulating more than 180 days of unlawful presence, you could be barred from returning for three years. And you could be banned for ten years if you accumulate one year or more of unlawful presence.
The good news is there are specific actions you can take in this situation. This guide will cover critical steps like understanding visa expiration dates, avoiding overstays, contacting your embassy, consulting an immigration attorney, and if eligible, requesting a visa extension.
Your expiration date is printed on your B-1/B-2 visitor visa. This important date indicates the last day your visa is valid for seeking entry into the United States.
Specifically, the visa expiration date is the end date of the “visa validity period” – the window of time that you can travel to a U.S. port of entry on your visa.
On a single-entry visa, you can use the visa just once during this validity period. A multiple-entry visa can be used multiple times before it expires.
The visa expiration date does not indicate how long you can stay in the U.S. A CBP officer determines your authorized length of stay each time you enter. Overstaying will invalidate your visa unless you file for an extension.
If your B-1/B-2 visitor visa expires or you realize it will expire before you can depart the United States, it’s helpful to consult an immigration attorney as soon as possible. Expert legal advice can make all the difference in navigating this stressful situation successfully.
An experienced immigration lawyer will review your case and provide advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
For example, your lawyer can determine whether you are eligible to extend your status or transition to another nonimmigrant visa category, like a student or work visa. Be aware that if you don’t meet the eligibility criteria, USCIS may deny your request. Your lawyer may be able to suggest backup options.
One of the most significant benefits of hiring an attorney is that they can walk you through each step of the process. These steps include properly completing forms, gathering supporting materials, and submitting your application for a new status or extension.
In addition to hiring a lawyer, you should also contact your embassy for assistance.
Another important step is contacting your home country’s embassy or consulate in the United States. Explain your situation and request guidance and assistance specific to your circumstances.
The officials at your embassy have experience helping citizens navigate U.S. immigration issues. They can offer advice on your options and connect you with valuable resources.
Be prepared to provide details like:
The embassy can contact U.S. authorities on your behalf to inquire about possible extensions, penalties, or other consequences. They may even be able to advocate for your case with immigration officials.
As you address your visa situation, speaking with your embassy offers an additional layer of support and expertise.
If your circumstances warrant remaining in the U.S. longer than your original authorized stay, you may be able to extend your B-1/B-2 visitor visa status by filing Form I-539. This application must be submitted to USCIS before your current status expires.
If you cannot extend your B-1/B-2 visitor status, you must depart the United States before your authorized stay expires.
Be prepared for additional screening. Keep documentation, such as your passport, I-94 record, and expired visa, in an easy-to-access location. Ensure you know the exact number of days you remained past the expiration to calculate the unlawful presence accrued. Your accrued unlawful presence will determine if you face a re-entry ban.
If you have been given paperwork about a re-entry ban, have an attorney review it as soon as possible. They may be able to appeal or apply for a ban waiver.
If you are in a stressful situation with an expired or soon-to-expire B-1/B-2 visitor visa, the knowledgeable immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. can help. We will thoroughly review your case, explain your options, handle your extension application, and ensure compliance with all immigration regulations. Contact us today by completing our online form or calling 312-444-1940.View Similar Articles