Legal Issues that Can Affect Your Visa
Even after you obtain your visa, certain things may happen to you in the U.S. that may threaten your status. These things could essentially invalidate your visa or make re-entry into the U.S. impossible once you leave.
First, it is important to know the difference between the term “visa” and an immigrant visa. Understanding the difference will help you determine what you have (or need) and what types of actions may affect your visa.
Difference Between a Visa and Status
Unlike many other countries, a visa and a person’s immigration status are not tied together in the United States. Instead, a visa stamp that has an expiration date and being authorized to live and stay in the U.S. are two entirely different concepts.
When you have a visa, you have gone through the application process and determined to be eligible to travel to the port of entry for a specific purpose. A “port of entry,” includes locations such as international airports, land border crossing, or seaport.
Generally, most citizens of other countries will be required to obtain a visa to enter the United States. A visa is a simple stamp on a page in your passport. You must usually apply for it at the Department of States embassies and consulates abroad.
Visas are used for those who want to visit the United States on a temporary basis. They are often used by:
An immigrant visa, on the other hand, will permit an individual to work and stay in the U.S. on a permanent basis.
Every visa has an expiration date. Once the visa expires, you will need to go through the approval process again to be permitted to visit a “port of entry.”
You also cannot use a visa for a different purpose than the one that you initially claimed. That is, you cannot extend your tourist visa (B2 visa) into a student visa, for example. The application process is different. You can also void your visa in certain circumstances, such as when you stay in the U.S. passed your authorization date (without obtaining an extension).
Your visa will specify how long you are permitted to remain in the U.S. You should receive an I-94, which is an Arrival-Departure Record. An immigration officer will often enter a date on your I-94 card that indicates how long you are permitted to stay based on your visa status.
If you want to remain in the U.S. past this date, you must apply for an extension of your visa. You should fill out Form I-539 and file it with the USCIS. The USCIS can then either reject or approve the extension application. If it is granted, they will notify you of your new visa termination date.
Getting Legal Help with Your Visa
Visas can be complicated, and there is far too much riding on yours to leave it to chance. Contact an experienced immigration attorney today to discuss your visa options.
Posted in: Immigration Law