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One of the most common questions that aliens usually ask is: What happens if you overstay your US visa? 

If you overstayed your visa, you may have some alternatives to remain in the U.S. legally. To learn about your possibilities, call our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles who are experts in these types of matters.


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What really happens if you overstay your US visa in 2024

Aliens who overstay their authorized period of stay in the US can face serious consequences for unlawful presence in the US

The authorized period of stay is typically issued by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer on Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record upon entering the US. If they exceed this period, aliens will:

  • Not be able to return to the United States for a period of 3 or 10 years;
  • Have their existing visa automatically revoked or cancelled;
  • Be barred from obtaining a new US visa;
  • Not be able to extend their stay or change their status;
  • Be at risk of not adjusting their status in the US, even if they were eligible.
how to legally enter the united states

If you continue reading with us, you will learn more on what happens if you overstay your US visa. It is possible that you may still have some alternative to legally enter the United States.

What Happens If I Enter With A Business Visa And Stay In The USA?

If aliens have the right mix of education, work experience, and required skills, they may be able to stay permanently in the United States through an employment-based immigrant visa.

Each category and the different types of American visas have their own rules regarding the length of stay in the US In addition, there are both temporary worker visas and permanent worker visas. Thus:

  • If the alien is on a temporary work visa, they are subject to a set period of time and must leave the US upon termination of their employment;
  • If the alien has a permanent work visa, they can stay and live permanently in the US. 

Some aliens comment that they I entered with a business visa and stayed legally in the US. That can be true, as long as they have a permanent workers visa. These visas are one of the ways to obtain the Green Card .

How Long Can You Stay In The United States On A Business Visa?

The length of stay that an alien worker can have in the United States depends on their business visa. Not all work visas have the same period of authorization stay. Next, we will know these allowed times:

what happens if i entered the us on a business visa and stayed

Temporary Nonimmigrant Visa:

  • H-1B visa: They have an initial period of 3 years and time extensions of up to a maximum of 6 years are allowed;
  • H-2A visa and H-2B visa: Your maximum stay period is 3 years;
  • H-3 visas: The maximum length of stay is 2 years.
  • I visa: Normally it is 1 year;
  • L-1 visas: Your period of stay depends on several factors, normally it ranges from 1 year to 5 years;
  • O visa: Your initial period of stay is 3 years but you can have extension increments of 1 year.
  • P visa: It depends on several factors, so it varies between 1 year and 5 years;
  • Religious worker T visa: It has an initial period of 30 months and can be extended for another 30 months;
  • TN NAFTA: Generally it is up to 3 years, but its period can be extended. 

Note: B-1 visas are for short-term business in the US and require a period of time of 6 months with an extension of an additional 6 months. In our blog “What is the B1 visa” you will find extensive information about this visa.

Visa For Temporary Workers:

The following visas do not have a maximum length of stay, since foreigners who possess them can stay to live legally in the US:

Most national foreigners who have obtained a temporary worker visa have been able to become US citizens. Want to become a citizen but can’t speak English? Check “How to Become a US Citizen Without Speaking English” for more information. 

How Long Can An Immigrant Stay In The US After Their Visa Expires?

The Department of State (DoS) clarifies that there is no problem if an immigrant’s visa expires while they are in the US, as long as they respect the time fixed on their I-94 form.

Generally, the seal of the immigration authorities allows national foreigners to stay in the country, even though their visa has expired. For this reason, it is important not to misplace or lose your passport or I-94 permit.

Didn’t you get a stamp when you entered the country? Worried that you don’t have one? There is no need to be alarmed, find the answer to this concern in our article “My passport wasn’t stamped when I entered the US“.

Can My US Visa Stay Be Waived?

Through one of the waivers of inadmissibility in the United States, it is possible for an alien to request a waiver for staying longer than allowed in the United States. 

In general, through the I-601A immigration waiver, aliens can be exempted from staying in the country beyond what is established by their visa.

overstaying your us visa

What Happens If I Have An employment Visa And I Am Fired?

If a foreign worker on a temporary work visa is dismissed, their immigration status in the US is at risk. USCIS believes that:

  • Employers must notify any dismissal of foreign workers as soon as possible in any of the USCIS offices;
  • If employers fail to give timely notice of termination of a foreign worker, employers may owe the foreign worker back pay;
  • USCIS cannot track down and remove an employee on a work visa who has been terminated, so the foreign workers may find another job immediately and their new employer may be willing to sponsor them.

There is an unofficial grace period of 180 days in which a foreigner who has been fired can continue to search for work as outlined on their visa. However, USCIS may decide to expel said worker on the first day that they have been fired.

If a national foreigner has been dismissed on a temporary business visa, changing their status to another visa could help them stay in the country longer. 

If I Have An employment Visa, Can I Get A Tourist Visa?

Aliens who entered the US on a work visa may apply to USCIS on the appropriate form to change to a US tourist visa before the stay authorized by their original visa expires.

To change status to a tourist visa, immigrants must file with USCIS Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status. This form has a cost of $370.

permanence in the united states with a business visa

How To Change My Status To A Tourist Visa?

In order for an alien to change their status in the US, they must respect the following guidelines:

  • Have been lawfully admitted to the United States as a Nonimmigrant;
  • You have not committed any activity that prevents your right to receive immigration benefits;
  • You have no other reason why you must leave the US before re-entering under a different classification;
  • Submit the change of status application by email using the online filing system by the due date indicated on your I-94 form;
  • Have your passport valid for the entire time you have applied to stay in the US with a new Nonimmigrant classification.

How To Get A Green Card With A Worker Visa?

For foreign nationals who have entered the US legally and have stayed, the only way for them to obtain their permanent residence is through marriage to an American or through US family based immigration

Some aliens have managed to marry in the United States on a tourist visa. However, if you manage to marry an American, you must take into account the consequences of a divorce.

In the US there are Marriage based Green Card interview questions intended to prevent a sham marriage fraud. 

what happens if you divorce before green card interview

If they get married, a sudden divorce could bring complications. Check what happens if you divorce before a Green Card interview for more information.

What Is The Penalty For Overstaying The US On A Visa?

So, this is what happens if you overstay your US visa in terms of consequences, sanctions and penalties:

  • 3-Year bar: Triggered once the alien leaves the US after staying for more than 180 days;
  • 10-Year bar: Triggered once the alien leaves the US after staying for more than a year;
  • Complication of immigration procedures: National foreigners who stay for more than one day than allowed on their visa, accumulate “illegal presence”, which makes any future immigration process difficult;
  • Visa cancellation: If a foreigner exceeds the date issued by CBP or USCIS, their visa will be automatically canceled or revoked;
  • Deportation: By accumulating unlawful presence and losing immigration status, aliens can be deported from the US;
  • Loss of permanent residence: It is possible that by staying longer than allowed, the foreigner may lose their chance of obtaining residence. 

What Happens If You Stay Longer In The US?

If an alien exceeds the end of stay date issued by CBP at a port of entry or by USCIS, the visa will automatically be revoked. 

It is more common to hear aliens state “I stayed with a tourist visa” than to hear them say “I entered with a worker visa and stayed”. This is because worker visas have more specific requirements than a tourist visa.

Frequently Asked Questions About What happens if you overstay your US visa

How Does USCIS Know I Overstayed?

Although USCIS does not track the departure date of all aliens, it does keep records of when they are supposed to leave. 

How to avoid staying longer than allowed?

To avoid overstaying time in the United States, a foreign national must physically leave before their visa expiration date or make a substantial travel plan so they know when it is time to leave.

Can I leave the US if I overstayed the time indicated on my visa?

If the national foreigner has overstayed by less than 180 days, they will not trigger any re-entry penalties. However, upon re-entry they may be denied entry by the border officer.

How long can a Canadian stay in the US?

How long a Canadian can stay in the US depends on their particular case and whether they entered the country on a US visa or not. Immigration law states that a non-US citizen can stay in the US for no more than 6 months a year.

Have You Exceeded The Limit Of Your American Visa? Contact The Lawyers Of Lluis Law

The immigration attorneys at Lluis Law have helped thousands of applicants gain legal admission to the US and have resolved countless issues of overstaying in the country. 

Now you know what happens if you overstay your US visa and that the consequences are numerous and strict, if you have overstayed your visa or have any other immigration issues, consult with our immigration attorneys as soon as possible.

With more than 50 years of combined experience, our attorneys have extensive knowledge in all types of immigration cases. Call us today and we can advise you regarding your specific situation.


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