Penalties for a Visa Overstay

Written by gwen wark
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Penalties for a Visa Overstay
You may be barred from entry after an overstay of your visa. (stop usa image by Lombok from

Overstaying a U.S. visa for even as little as a day can have serious consequences. Any person entering the United States on a nonimmigrant visa needs to leave the country on or before the date stamped on her I-94 card, or she begins to accrue overstay time. This can make future travel to the United States very difficult.

Future Visits

After overstaying a visa for even a day, future visits to the United States become more complicated. Those travellers who were once eligible to use the Visa Waiver Program and enter the United States without prior visa clearance are barred from using the program after an overstay. They must apply for a travel visa prior to travelling to the United States by submitting a visa application to their U.S. embassy or consulate. Another immediate consequence for overstayers on future visits is that all visas must be applied for in the country of a person's citizenship, even if he resides elsewhere.


It can become extraordinarily difficult to obtain a visa after a prior overstay. Visas will need to be obtained before travel and are subject to additional scrutiny. The visa applicant will need to prove to a consular official that he did not intend to stay past the valid I-94 date on the visa by providing extensive evidence of ties to his home country. The visa applicant may also be subjected to additional background checks, which delay the visa processing times considerably.

Bans and Waivers

After 180 days, the overstayer will be subject to a three-year ban from the United States. This prevents the person from receiving a U.S. visa or entering the country at all. After one year of overstay time, this three-year ban is extended to 10 years. If an overstayer applies for a visa during the ban, it will be refused. It is possible that he person will be offered the chance to submit a hardship waiver to prove that not entering the United States would present extreme hardship. This waiver requires additional information and processing time.

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