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Navigating an Expired Travel Visa: What to Do When You Can’t Leave the U.S.

Traveling to new places can be exciting, but sometimes circumstances arise that prevent you from leaving a country when your travel visa expires. If you find yourself in this situation in the United States, it’s important to know your options and take the necessary steps to address a B-1/B-2 travel visa overstay.

Have you overstayed your visa? Boundless has put together an in-depth guide on how to apply to have your visa overstay forgiven.

What to Do if You’ve Overstayed Your B-1/B-2 Travel Visa

1. Stay Calm and Assess Your Options

When you realize that you cannot leave the United States before your visa expires, try to remain calm and approach the situation with a clear mind. Panic and stress will not help solve the issue. Begin by assessing your options and understanding the potential consequences of overstaying your visa.

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Rules

Research and familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations concerning visa overstays. Overstaying a B1/B2 visa can result in negative consequences such as:

  • Barred Reentry: If you overstay for a certain period, you may face a reentry ban, which can prevent you from returning to the United States for a specified period. The length of the ban depends on the duration of your overstay. If you accrue more than 180 days of unlawful presence and then depart the United States, you may face a three-year bar from reentering. If you accrue more than one year of unlawful presence, the bar increases to ten years.
  • Difficulty with Future Visa Applications: Overstaying can create challenges when applying for future U.S. visas. Immigration officials may view a previous overstay as a negative factor in determining your eligibility for another visa.

3. Contact Your Embassy or Consulate

Woman talking to an immigration attorney

Reach out to your country’s embassy or consulate in the United States as soon as possible. They can provide guidance, support, and assistance, ensuring that you have the most accurate information regarding your particular circumstances. The embassy or consulate may be able to offer advice on legal options or connect you with resources that can help resolve your situation.

4. Seek Legal Counsel

Consulting an immigration attorney is highly recommended if you find yourself unable to leave the U.S. before your visa expires. An attorney who specializes in immigration law can assess your case, provide legal guidance, and help you understand the potential consequences of your overstay. They can also explore available options, such as requesting an extension or adjusting your status.

Have legal immigration questions? Get them answered by independent attorneys in our network for just $49 per call.

5. Apply for an Extension or Change of Status

If there are valid reasons for your inability to leave the United States on time, you may be eligible to request an extension or change of status. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible to change your status to another nonimmigrant visa category, such as a student visa (F-1) or a work visa (H-1B). When changing status, you will need to file Form I-539 (“Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status”).

For more info, Boundless has put together a guide on how to change status from a travel visa to an F-1 student visa.

6. Maintain Documentation and Stay Compliant

Immigration forms

During your extended stay, it’s crucial to maintain accurate records of your activities and communications related to your visa situation. It’s also important to continue complying with all U.S. laws and regulations while you address your immigration status. This can demonstrate good faith and may be considered favorably in potential legal proceedings or future immigration applications.

By staying calm, understanding the rules, seeking legal counsel, and exploring available options, you can navigate this challenging situation more effectively. Remember to reach out to your embassy or consulate and consider consulting an immigration attorney to help you make informed decisions and take the necessary steps to resolve your immigration status as quickly as possible.

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