For many people around the world, coming to the United States is a lifetime dream. Entering the country as a foreign natural requires obtaining a visa, and at the offices of Buhler Thomas Law, P.C., we’re here to help.
Even for those who have obtained a visa through a citizenship attorney, however, there still could be legal issues that affect visa status while entering or re-entering the US. Here are some areas to consider.
Lawful vs Unlawful Entry
Foreign nationals can either enter the country lawfully or unlawfully. This will affect visa status. A lawful entry requires proper visa application and fulfilling of requirements, and will hopefully end with the issuing of a visa for entry. Unlawful entry is considered any entry that does not follow this procedure, and it immediately causes someone to be considered an illegal alien.
Foreign nationals looking to extend their stay beyond the length of their authorized visa must file this request with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the current stay expires. Staying longer than authorized may result in removal and barring from return.
To extend a stay, we recommend applying at least 45 days in advance. You can apply for an extended stay if:
- You were lawfully admitted to the US with a nonimmigrant visa
- You have a nonimmigrant visa status that’s still valid
- You haven’t committed any crimes that might make you ineligible
- You haven’t violated any conditions of admission
- You have a valid passport that will remain valid though the duration of the extension
Bars to Admission
There are two scenarios where foreign nationals will be ineligible to obtain visas:
- Previous removal: If foreign nationals have been removed due to a violation in the last five years, they will not be eligible for admission. If an individual is deported a second time or convicted of any aggravated felony during removal, this person is inadmissible for 20 years.
- Unlawfully present: Any foreign national present unlawfully will be barred from obtaining a visa for a set period of time, depending on how they were present.
Exceptions to these rules include minors, asylees, family unity situations, battered women and children, and victims of human trafficking.
Waivers of Unlawful Presence
The Attorney General has sole discretion to waive the unlawful presence of a foreign national if that person is the spouse or child of a US citizen or lawfully admitted permanent resident. This person must show proof that the refusal would result in extreme hardship, however.
Immigrant Intent Issues
A successful approval for a visa extension depends on reasons for staying in the country, and on ability to prove “non-immigrant intent.” This means that the national still plans to leave the US and will not try to immigrate permanently.
For more on these issues, or to speak to an experienced immigration attorney, contact the offices of Buhler Thomas Law, P.C. today.