You had all your documents in place and submitted them in time, but due to the legal and bureaucratic intricacies, you now find yourself in a delicate situation: your visa has expired while you are still waiting for the new one. It can feel a bit alarming, but it can happen to anyone. Although there is a solution to this problem, it’s best not to wait too long to fix it as it can affect your current arrangements as well as your future stays in the United States.

Let us guide you through the steps you should take next and what your best options are. Take note that most of these solutions apply if you managed to file an application in time with USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to extend your visa. Make sure also to check the date before which you are permitted to stay, and plan your application so that you don’t exceed this date.

Know Your Required Departure Date

Many individuals mistake this date for the one written on their original visa. You can find your required departure date on your Arrival-Departure Record (I-94). Keep in mind that it shows the date by which you are allowed to enter United States territory.

Regularly Check the Status of Your Application

Even if you were diligent and applied in time, it doesn’t mean you can relax. USCIS can send their answer through the mail, and the chances that it will be delayed or even lost are rather high. Because your situation is time-sensitive, you need to check in with the authorities and get regular updates. There is a direct way of checking the status of your visa application here. Below, you can find a few ways to contact the USCIS personally, in case you cannot access the online platform.

How to Get to an Appointment with a USCIS Officer

You can schedule an appointment with a USCIS officer through the InfoPass system. All you have to do is select your preferred office from a list of eligible ones, then follow the steps until you receive a confirmation that your application was registered. You will receive a reference code which you can use whenever you want to check your status.

Accruing the Unlawful Status

Once your visa has expired, you have to immediately stop working if you were in the United States on a working visa, for example. It would be risky to achieve the unlawful status, as it affects your future entries in the U.S. If you have accrued the unlawful status for over 180 days, you are banned from entering the United States for three years. If you exceed one year of having an unlawful status, then you won’t be allowed to enter the U.S. for ten years. That can affect both your life and the future of your children, so make sure you are aware of your status when being on the United States territory.

Hiring an Attorney to Help with Your Case

Although the USCIS institution has transparent procedures and plenty of research material and updated information posted online and available in their offices, a expired Visa attorney that is specialized in immigration issues can make a significant difference. Attorneys are familiar with the rules, are up to date with every change, have been through this process before, and know what your application needs, to be accepted.

Most online attorney firms often offer a free consultation, where they can ask a few questions about your case and pair you with the right person to handle your unique situation.

Whether you have decided to hire an attorney or handle your application yourself, you should make sure to read the procedures carefully. Take enough time to prepare the papers and present a strong case. Think of every possible outcome and always have a plan B and C, in case you run out of luck along the way

Published by Peter Garlow