Generally, people who seek an immigration visa do so to become a permanent resident. They normally are not allowed to enter the US at an approved entry port unless they have applied for a visa, their application has been approved, they have received the appropriate documents, and they have been admitted for entry. Once admitted, based on becoming a permanent resident, they should not have to worry about their visa expiring.
In the same manner, foreigners who come to America on a fiancé visa (a K-1 visa), generally are approved to stay in America, provided they are married within 90 days of entry into the US. Once the person is married, he/she can apply for a green card.
Many foreigners obtain visas for specific purposes such as travel, business, or work. When the visa expires, they are expected to leave the country. Most students apply for an F-1 visa which means they stay in America while they are attending school.
According to the US State department, the following time considerations apply to visas:
- The visa expiration date. This is the date that the foreigner is eligible to enter a port of entry once his/her visa is approved. Approved applicants still must be approved for entry into the country by customs officials. The date only applies to the time they have to come to America – not to the time they can stay in America. Some visas allow the holder to enter and leave the country multiple times, provided all entries are before the visa expiration date.
- The visa duration date. This is the length of time that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers, at the point of entry, give the visa holder to stay in the United States. The visa automatically ends at the visa duration date unless the person filed an application for an extension or change of visa status (such as applying for permanent residency status) in a timely manner and for non-frivolous reasons. Students can stay in America until the duration date. Holders of business visas can stay in the US until their expiration date provided they have qualifying employment.
- Students may not be given a specific date to leave. Instead, the student is given the right to stay in the US as long as they are pursuing a course of full-time study or related training. Students may have additional time to stay – to transfer to a different school or to prepare to leave. Students generally aren’t expected to leave the day after exams are over. It’s best to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to help pinpoint the day you must leave – especially as the laws on immigration are changing.
To extend your status, if you didn’t enter the US on an immigrant visa, you need to apply to the USCIS well in advance of your expiration date. Anyone who is in the US whose visa has expired is considered to be “out of status.” The Department of Homeland Security may then:
- Consider that you are in violation of US immigration laws.
- Deem you ineligible for future visas for at least three years and possibly up to 10 years.
- Require that if you stay beyond your duration status, you may need to apply for the extension through a US embassy or a US consulate outside of America (normally your home country).
At LaFevor & Slaughter, our Knoxville visa lawyers have the experience and resources to help non US citizens who wish to live, work, or marry in Knoxville or the surrounding areas obtain visas and extensions for their visas if they meet the legal requirements. For help with visas extensions, visa expirations, and any type of immigration issue, call us at 865.272.4454 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.