What Is the Crime of Overstaying a Visa?

Written by bernadette a. safrath
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What Is the Crime of Overstaying a Visa?
Visas allow foreign citizens to enter the United States. (passeport image by free_photo from Fotolia.com)

A visa is required for foreign citizens to travel to or reside in the United States. If a person remains in the United States after the visa expires, he will be subject to civil penalties, including deportation.


Citizens of foreign countries need a non-immigrant visa to visit the United States. Foreign citizens who wish to maintain permanent residence in the U.S. must obtain an immigrant visa.


Even if someone holds a permanent residence visa, the visa does contain an expiration date. A visa can be extended and must be renewed prior to the expiration date.


The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains only civil penalties for an immigrant who overstays her visa. This means that immigrants with an expired visa will not be charged criminally or serve time in jail.


The civil proceeding started against an immigrant overstaying his visa is called deportation. An immigrant who is deported will be required to return to his home country.


In addition to deportation, an immigrant who overstays her visa may also become ineligible to obtain another visa. This would prevent her from travelling to the United States in the future.

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