Does a visa overstay negatively affect immigration proceedings?

An immigration visa is only valid for a set amount of time. When a visitor to New Jersey remains in the United States after the visa expires, the situation is known as an overstay. Not everyone procures a visa for tourism, either. The person may intend to emigrate to the United States and become a lawful permanent resident. Often, family petitions serve as the way someone becomes a lawful permanent resident, and a visa overstay could affect the process.

The matter of visa overstays

When someone intends to petition for a family member, the individual will file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. If the relative has already entered the United States on a visa and overstays, the overstay might not undermine the petition’s processing. Overstays do not automatically make someone ineligible for approval on Form I-130.

Things could become more complicated if someone intends to become a lawful permanent resident, though. The law establishes punitive actions when someone overstays their visa beyond a particular length of time.

Visa overstays and potential penalties

Under immigration law, someone who leaves overstays a visa for 180 days or more cannot reenter the United States for three years. One year or more would raise the re-entry ban to 10 years. Such a ban could be devastating for anyone intending to procure lawful permanent resident status.

Exceptions might be possible under specific circumstances. With relatives, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may forgive the overstay if the person applies for a green card – LPR status – from inside the United States.

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