Trusted Legal Counsel for Central Georgia

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Immigration
  4.  » What happens if I overstay my visa?

What happens if I overstay my visa?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2024 | Immigration

You might think about staying in the United States for longer than your tourist visa allows. Maybe you have seen others doing it, know someone who has done it or it is not a major issue in your country of origin. In the U.S., however, think twice before overstaying your visa.

It is important to know that while the United States is a wonderful place to visit, overstaying your welcome can have serious consequences.

Unlawful presence

When you stay in the United States beyond the date that your tourist visa expires, you are in “unlawful presence,” which essentially is breaking the rules, and the longer you overstay, the more it can affect your future chances of coming back to the United States.

Bars on reentry

If you stay in the United States on a tourist visa beyond 180 days, immigration officials may bar your reentry, resulting in denial of access to return to the United States. This ban lasts for three years. If you overstay a year or longer, the ban increases to ten years.

No more visa waiver programs

If you are a citizen of a country that usually allows you to enter the U.S. without a visa through the Visa Waiver Program, overstaying can make you ineligible for this program.

Limited options for legal status

Overstaying can make it much harder to change your immigration status or get a green card later, which is at the very least what most people who want to live here really want. This means closing doors on future opportunities.

Legal consequences

Nobody likes to get in trouble with the law, but overstaying on a tourist visa can definitely get you in trouble with the law. If you get caught, you face detention and deportation.

Difficulties finding employment

Most, if not all, employers require you to have legal immigration status to work in the United States. Overstaying can make it difficult or impossible to get a job and you might end up having to go back to your country of origin anyway.

Strained relationships with the U.S.

Overstaying on a tourist visa leads to strained relationships with American authorities. American culture is based on values involving good will, and there is a great deal of weight placed on honesty, following rules, and respecting the letter of the law.

Staying beyond the time allowed by U.S. law directly violates this social contract, which can contribute to strained relationships between not only you and the U.S. but also your country of origin and the United States.