Some people don’t seem to understand the difference between their visa expiration date and how long they should remain in the U.S. These are distinct legal terms. A U.S. Visa is granted to citizens of foreign countries who seek to enter the United States. The visa has an expiration date as well as an issuance date. However, the expiration date doesn’t show how long you can stay in the United States and there are also circumstances that may qualify to help you cancel or avoid your visa. As a Salt Lake City immigration attorney about your options.
What’s the visa expiration date?
The expiration date, as well as issuance date, are on your visa and it’s what makes it valid. Your visa validity is the time you are allowed to travel to a US port-of-entry. Visas can be issued for single or multiple entries. However, a visa doesn’t guarantee entry to the United States. Likewise, your visa expiration date is not the end of your stay in the United States. Only the Customs and Border Protection officer can determine that. Some circumstances can help you alter the validity period. If you have stayed passed your authorized date, your visa will be canceled except you already filed an application for automatic extension or if you have a pending application.
Your duration of stay
When you arrive at the port of entry, the official will determine the length of your stay. If the paper Form I-94 or the admission stamp has a date, then that’s the time you must leave. You can remain in the United States as long as you are either working, studying or if you are part of an exchange program. Your authorized length of stay is on your admission stamp. You should not use your visa’s expiration date as a reference to the length of your stay.
Extending your stay
If you would like to extend your stay, you need to do so before the authorized date on your paper Form I-94. You need plenty of time to apply as the process may take a while. Make sure you consider the dates you are authorized to stay in the United States as staying beyond this time will change your status and you may also be ineligible for future entries.
When you overstayed your visa
This is a serious problem as you may be barred from entering the United States if you have overstayed for more than 180 days and less than a year. Also, the border officer will see you overstayed and may not allow you to enter the next time around. Overstaying a few days or weeks is generally not an issue. The problem is when you overstay for too long.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to request an extension or perhaps you have overstayed and don’t know what to do, contact a Salt Lake City immigration attorney and ask about your legal options. We can help you and your family avoid common visa problems.