The Significance of Your Student Visa’s Expiration Date

by Raymond G. Lahoud, Esquire

According to U.S. law, any individual from a foreign country must have a current, non-immigration visa in order to study within the country. Unlike other types of documentation, student visas are considered temporary, meaning that they can have strict limitations on their validity. Those who find themselves in the United States with an expired student visa can find themselves facing serious legal consequences.

When are you at risk?

To know if you might be at risk for penalties, it is first important to understand what type of student visa you possess. For students who are permitted to be in the United States because of a J-1 or F-1 student status, the legality of your stay is determined by a government agency—typically U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Students are granted J-1 and F-1 student status for academic programs that are not part of a set time period. For example, if certain academic training or outside program experience is required in order to complete the purpose of the individual’s studies, this type of status may be granted. Students with J-1 or F-1 status will be notified by the government when their visa is deemed complete. After this notification, students will be expected to leave the country as instructed.

For students who are in the United States with an M-1 student status, the deadline of your visa is much clearer. M-1 student visas are given with a concrete expiration date already in place. If you are a student and remain in the country for longer than that period of time, your presence can be considered unlawful.

Penalties for overstaying your visa

The expiration date or end of your visa’s temporary duration should be taken seriously, as violations of its terms can lead to serious legal issues. Typically, consequences of staying in the United States without a valid visa are scaled according to how long you remained in the country once your documentation expired. For example, if you overstay your visa for 180 days, you may be subject to a three-year ban from reentering the U.S. Meanwhile, those who remained for 365 days or more can face a 10-year ban from returning to the country.

Extending your visa

Depending on the type of visa you have, it may be possible to extend the duration of your stay. Should you have an F-1 visa and need additional time to complete your academic program, you can work with a legal professional as well as your designated school official to discuss your options. Keep in mind that the process of filing for an extension should be completed before the terms of your visa have expired.

If you have questions about the status of your visa or would like to speak with an expert about the possibility of extending its terms, talking to an experienced attorney is key. For more information on your options, consult a trusted Pennsylvania non-immigration visa lawyer at Baurkot & Baurkot today.