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Violating Visa Laws and Getting "Out of Status"

Contact Schifanelli Law, LLP at 410-263-0028 for an initial consultation with a Lawyer in Annapolis.
2450 Riva Road, Suite 201, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.
Serving the Maryland and Washington D.C. Communities.

Integrity, Dedication & Competence

How Can I Violate My Visa Status?

     There are several ways that a person can violate the terms of his or her visa.  In many cases, getting "out of status" could have been avoided if the visa holder had only extended their current visa type before expiration of their authorized stay in the U.S.  Some visitors don't understand the parameters of their visa or authorized stay. They mix up critical dates, ultimately coming out of status and thus filing for an extension late. Others attempt to file on their own, but don't understand how USCIS works and the requirements that they must satisfy in order to be granted an extension. Still others willingly violate their visa terms by engaging in unauthorized employment, for example in visitor or student status. Once you violate any restriction on your particular visa type, you are likely to be out of visa status.  However, in a few cases it's actually not the visa holder's fault. 


What Are the Consequences of Violating My Visa Status?

The Three and Ten Year Mandatory Bars to Reentry    

     Once you are out of visa status, you begin to accrue "unlawful presence" in the U.S. (see INA sec. 212(a)(9(B)(i)(I) and (II)).  If you accrue more than 180 days (but less than one year) of unlawful presence, you become "inadmissible" and will be barred from reentry for a period of no less than three years beginning on the day that you depart the U.S.  That means, if you go to a U.S. Consulate to renew your visa or request a different visa type, including an "immigrant visa,  (for example based on your marriage to  a U.S. citizen), the Consular Officer cannot give you the visa - even if she wants to.  Accrue over a year of unlawful presence and you are barred for not less than ten years!  Once out of the U.S., the only way to legally overcome these bars is to apply for an "extreme hardship" waiver which carries essentially the same high standard as Cancellation of Removal.  

     Even if you are successful in getting back in status without triggering the mandatory bars, once you depart the U.S. and seek reentry through a U.S. Consulate, the consulate personnel are likely to regard your new visa application with prejudice since you now have a history of violating the privilege of coming to the U.S. legally.  They are difficult enough to deal with as it is.

Can I Get Back Into Visa Status?

We have helped foreign visitors and visa holders in Maryland and other states get back into valid visa status, sometimes long after their visa or authorized stay expired. We have helped students get back in F-1 visa status after events caused them to terminate their studies. We successfully petitioned USCIS on behalf of a visa holder many years after she had come out of visa status after she was defrauded by a man claiming to be a barred immigration lawyer (but who had been sanctioned and debarred years before).  Furthermore, we have helped hundreds who were out of status but were sponsored by their U.S. citizen spouses. In these cases, getting your green card is possible if you apply while you are STILL in the U.S.   DON'T LEAVE THE U.S. WITHOUT FIRST SPEAKING WITH A COMPETENT MARYLAND GREEN CARD LAWYER!  Contact us if you are seeking to regain your visa status, or you are still in status and want to change or extend your visa, or you have married a U.S. citizen and are seeking to attain lawful permanent resident status.

Many People who come to the U.S. as business or Visitors on B-Visas, Students in F-1 Visa Status, temporary worker's in H-1B, Etc., eventually become "out of status."  That is, they have either failed to extend their visa status, or they have done something that has terminated their visa status by process of law.  What that happens, the consequences are stiff.

Schifanelli Law, LLP

Integrity, Dedication

& Competence