As a rule, you cannot stay a day more after your US visa has expired. But having your spouse as a US citizen has its privileges! So rules are a bit different for you after a visa overstay. There are certain provisions in the U.S. immigration laws that prove favorable to those whose spouse is a citizen of America. But it does not mean that the problem is solved. After the expiry of the visa, you are expected to fulfill certain formalities to get back to the lawful immigration status.
Generally speaking, the spouse of an American citizen can become a green card holder and gain permanent residency status. Here’s a complete picture of things to know if you have a visa overstay condition.
What Is Visa Overstay?
Overstaying a visa is normally a condition when as a foreign national your stay goes beyond the authorized period of stay. However, a visa in many cases does not give you an indication regarding overstaying. For example, a nonimmigrant visa can remain valid for a couple of years but it does not denote the length of time you are authorized to stay in America. It simply is your entry ticket to the United States.
So in this case it is the Form-194 that carries a record of your Arrival and Departure and decides your last day in the U.S. The I-94 record carries your ‘admit until date’ which is the last day of your stay in the US. When you continue to stay beyond this last day it means that you are overstaying the visa.
Visa Overstay- What Is Adjustment Of Status?
It is a change of status that is used by non-immigrant visitors such as tourists or students who adjust their status to become a permanent resident of the US while being in the country. However, such a privilege is available only to certain people especially those who are immediate relatives to the US citizens such as their parents, unmarried children, or spouses who qualify other eligibility requirements and are already in the country.
For a foreign national with an unlawful immigration status adjustment of status, provision is not allowed. The provision is only for the immediate relatives of the citizens of the United States. In this regard, the spouse is the immediate relative and hence can be exempted from the visa overstay. However, the adjustment of status is applicable to the spouse only if he/she has entered the country lawfully. For those entering the borders without inspection adjustment of status is not applicable.
Adjusting Status Within Country Cuts Down Expenses
If a spouse has overstayed in the United States and returns to the home country, he/she will have to undergo all the formalities necessary for getting a green card. It will not only increase the expenses but the entire process is quite time-consuming. Also, if the spouses have overstayed their visa for a long period they will have a lot of problems making a reentry.
So for the spouses of the U.S. citizens who have entered the country lawfully adjustment of status is the perfect solution as it makes them permanent residents of the country. Such spouses have to fill the Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, and other documents so that the U.S immigration department can take the decision soonest possible.