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How Does a Visitor Visa Overstay Affect Future Immigration?Most U.S. immigrants have family members who come to the U.S. on temporary visas for vacation or to attend school. However, if those family members overstay their required departure date, they could find themselves in trouble with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Some visa overstays can render a person legally inadmissible to the U.S. for several years and unable to qualify for an immigration visa, although a waiver of inadmissibility may be possible in some cases. 

How Do I Know If I Overstayed a Visitor or Student Visa?

If you arrive in the U.S. by airplane or ship, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will stamp your passport with your admission date and required departure date, shown as the “admitted until” date. If you arrive by land, Customs will issue you a paper Form I-94/Arrival/Departure Record showing your required departure date. You can also look up your arrival/departure information online by your passport number, name, and birthdate.

Students with F1 visas will see “D/S” — duration of status — on their passport or I-94 form instead of a date. This means you can stay in the U.S. as long as you remain enrolled as a full-time student in an approved school that has submitted the required documents to Customs. When you graduate or otherwise complete your program of study, you must depart the U.S. within 60 days.

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Darien family immigration lawyer immediate relative visaCaring for one’s parents is a commitment from the heart for many people, and a moral duty for others. In any case, most people want to have their parents close to them throughout their lives. If you have chosen to make the United States your permanent home, you may wish to sponsor your parents for immigration through an immediate relative visa.

One of the stated goals of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is “to secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by uniting families.” USCIS makes it relatively easy for you to bring your spouse and children to join you in the U.S., and bringing parents over is also fairly easy.

Who Can Sponsor Parents for an Immediate Relative Visa (IR-5)?

If you are a U.S. citizen currently living in the United States, and you are at least 21 years of age, you can sponsor your mother and father for immigration using the IR-5 visa category. You will need to demonstrate that you have enough income and/or assets to support the immigrant(s) you are sponsoring. You will be required to accept legal responsibility for their financial support by signing an Affidavit of Support. You will also need your birth certificate proving your parent-child relationship.

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Posted on in Visas

New Canaan immigration visa enforcement lawyerAccording to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in August 2018, more than 700,000 foreign visitors remained in the US beyond their required exit date in fiscal year 2017. This figure represents 1.3% of the 52.7 million individuals who entered the US via an airport or seaport and were expected to depart by September 30, 2017 (excluding land crossings from Canada and Mexico).

DHS defines an overstay as a nonimmigrant who was lawfully admitted to the United States for an authorized period but remained in the U.S. beyond his or her authorized period of admission. When a nonimmigrant arrives in the U.S., their allowed length of stay will be specified on their Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.

Overstay Rates Vary Significantly by Country and Type of Visa

Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) had an overall overstay rate of 0.5% compared to 1.9% for non-VWP countries. 

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New Canaan immigration visa attorney visitor visasGiven the long waiting times for U.S. family immigration visas, many people wonder if they can visit their family in the United States while their visa application is pending. The short answer is yes, but as explained below, visits require advance planning.

The Waiting Time for an Immigration Visa Can Be Months or Years

The estimated processing times for Form I-130 petitions for family immigration are currently:

  • Five to seven months for a spouse or child under age 21 of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or a parent of a U.S. citizen. 
  • 67 to 87 months for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident filing for an unmarried child over age 21.
  • 71 to 92 months for a U.S. citizen filing for a married child over age 21.

The wait is much shorter for the first category, because there are no annual limits on visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, while there are quotas for the other categories shown above. Wait times are for September 2018 at the Vermont USCIS service center.

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Darien spouse visa immigration lawyerAre you planning a wedding between an American citizen and a citizen of another country? If you intend to make your permanent home in the United States, the foreign citizen will need to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. There are two ways to accomplish this:

  • Apply for a K-1 fiancé visa, then marry in the U.S.
  • Marry abroad, then sponsor the foreign spouse’s immigration through an IR-1/CR-1 visa. 

Before deciding which path to take, consider the following:

Bringing a Fiancé to the U.S. on a K-1 Visa 

  • A K-1 temporary (nonimmigrant) visa allows a foreign-citizen fiancé to enter and remain in the U.S. for 90 days, during which time they must get married. 
  • The U.S. citizen must first file a petition for the visa by mail. Later, the foreign citizen must complete an online application form and attend an in-person interview that is intended to prove that a bona fide relationship exists. 
  • You must also provide proof (such as travel and hotel receipts and date-stamped photographs) that you and your fiancé have met in person at least once. 
  • While there is no annual quota limit on K-1 visas, processing can take six or more months. 
  • Once married, the non-citizen spouse can remain in the U.S. but must apply for an adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident. 

Bringing a Spouse Married Abroad to the U.S. on an IR-1 Visa

  • Before planning to marry in another country, check that country’s specific requirements for marriage. For example, you may need to establish residency in that country for a certain period of time. 
  • When a Connecticut citizen is married in a foreign country, the state will recognize the marriage as valid as long as both parties would be legally allowed to be married in Connecticut, and the marriage is legally valid in the country where the marriage occurs. 
  • When applying for a spouse immigration visa (IR-1/CR-1), you must provide a copy of your marriage certificate. You must also submit “clear and convincing evidence” that you have a bona fide marriage and that you “entered into the marriage in good faith and not for immigration purposes.”
  • If you have already been married for at least two years, the non-citizen spouse will receive an IR-1 (immediate relative) visa, which is good for ten years.
  • If you have been married for less than two years, the non-citizen spouse will receive a CR-1 (conditional residence) visa, which is good for two years. During the ninety days prior to the expiration of the CR-1 visa, you must apply jointly to remove the conditional status, converting the CR-1 to an IR-1. 
  • While there is no annual quota limit on IR-1/CR-1 visas, visa approval can take six to twelve months. Once the visa has been issued, the immigrant must enter the U.S. within six months.

Consult a Fairfield County Spouse Immigration Attorney

If you want to bring your foreign-citizen partner to the U.S., Gonzalez Law Office, LLC can help you decide which type of visa to apply for and work with you to navigate the complex immigration process. Attorney Hector Gonzalez,  a Stamford, CT family immigration lawyer, has been serving the immigration needs of families for over 15 years. Contact us at 203-323-1440.

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Fairfield County Bar Association Connecticut Bar Association American Immigration Lawyers Association Connecticut American Immigration Lawyers Association
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