The U.S. immigration process can be quite complex. It is not uncommon for someone to enter the United States with a valid visa, file for an extension, and then not hear back from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before their visa expires. Having your visa expire while living in a foreign country can certainly be nerve-wracking. However, following specific steps will make the process much easier to navigate. Read on to learn how to avoid ever saying, “Help, my visa expired! Now what?”
What Is a U.S. Visa?
In order to legally enter the United States of America, a foreign citizen must apply for a U.S. visa. A visa is simply a passport that permits foreign citizens to enter the United States. However, having a visa granted as a foreign citizen does not always guarantee entry to the United States. Being granted a visa simply means that your application was reviewed by a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and that the officer determined that you are eligible to travel to the U.S. for a specific purpose.
Even with a valid U.S. visa, you can be denied entry to the United States. Access is generally determined at the port of entry. At the port of entry, a U.S. immigration officer from the Department of Homeland Security will determine if you can enter the country. If granted entry, the immigration officer will also set the duration of time you are allowed to stay. If a U.S. immigration officer grants you entry into the states, it is essential that you follow all rules and regulations given. You must also keep your visa up to date and stay on top of all paperwork and deadlines to avoid potential issues as much as possible. It is in your best interest to always be aware of all immigration expectations and your visa expiration date.
When Is My Visa Expiration Date?
When you are issued a U.S. visa, your visa expiration date will be shown alongside the visa issuance date. The time between these two dates is known as your visa validity. During this time, you are allowed to travel to a port of entry in the United States. If allowed into the U.S. at the port of entry, it is essential that you understand how long you are legally allowed to stay in the United States. It is also vital that you understand how to renew your visa before its expiration date once you are living in the United States.
How Do I Extend My Visa?
When coming to the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you must apply to extend your stay with USCIS before your stay is up or before your visa expires. It is recommended that you apply for an extension well in advance of the expiration date, as it can be a lengthy process. To extend your visa, you will have to file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with the USCIS. We recommend filing this form at least 45 days before your authorized stay is set to expire. Keep in mind that not all applicants are eligible for an extension. This includes individuals who were admitted to the U.S. in the categories of the visa waiver program, D nonimmigrant visa, C nonimmigrant visa, K nonimmigrant visa, S nonimmigrant visa, or in transit through the United States without a visa
If you applied for an extended stay and have not heard back from USCIS before your expiration date, it is recommended that you leave the United States. Failing to adhere to guidelines and staying beyond your authorized time is a violation of U.S. immigration laws. Breaking these laws, for whatever reason, may cause you to be ineligible from all future travel to the United States. If you do stay beyond the end date of your authorized stay, your visa will be automatically canceled. It is always in your best interest to follow all immigration laws and USCIS guidelines. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your visa status, it’s always a good idea to contact an experienced immigration attorney.
Consult with an Experienced Immigration Attorney Today
Navigating the U.S. immigration process can certainly be difficult. There are a lot of details you must follow to keep your visa valid and guidelines to follow during your stay in the United States. It is essential that you always stay up to date with your Visa and all USCIS guidelines because you never want to have to utter the phrase, “My Visa Expired! Now what?”
If you ever have questions or concerns regarding your status or visa eligibility, reach out to one of our experienced immigration attorneys immediately. An immigration attorney will be able to help you navigate all the complexities of U.S. immigration.
Contact us today. We look forward to working with you and helping you reach the best possible outcome with your immigration journey.