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Can you face penalties for overstaying a visa?

You've been living in the United States on a visa, and you met someone you like a lot. You know your visa is running out, and you haven't found a way to stay in the country. What happens if you decide to overstay your visa to be with the person you want a relationship with?

Once the end date of validity passes, you'll be recognized as an unlawful party in the United States. As someone who is unlawfully present, you are exposed to a risk of deportation and other penalties. Before you decide to overstay your visa, keep in mind that it's easier to get back into the country if you leave legally and reenter legally. Overstaying could impact your ability to return to the United States in the future.

If there are a few specific factors involved in your case, you may be able to overstay your visa without penalties. For instance, if you are a beneficiary of a family unity program, the amount of time you're unlawfully in the country is not counted against you. The time may also toll, or stop, if you are waiting on a pending application for an extension, change of status or adjustment to your visa.

One simple way to avoid problems is to extend your visa. You can apply to have your visa extended if you were lawfully admitted into the country, haven't committed any acts that make you inadmissible, aren't required to depart before extending the visa and submit an extension of stay before your visa's expiration date. Your attorney can help you apply in advance, so you can avoid being in the U.S. illegally.

Source: FindLaw, "What Happens If I Overstay My Visa?," accessed Nov. 08, 2017

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