In this article we will respond to a question that we usually get in the office: “How long can we stay in the USA with a tourist visa” and the legal immigration consequences that this could bring.
The B2 tourist visa is one of the most requested US visas, as it allows travel to the US for the purpose of visiting friends or family, tourism or pleasure. However, immigrants often take advantage of its use and stay illegally in the country. Our mmigration law firm in New Jersey can help you stay in the country legally. Call us today to find out more.
Table of Contents
So, how long can we really stay in the USA with a tourist visa in 2024?
It is something that thousands of immigrants in the same situation ask themselves.
Foreigners who remain in the US with a tourist visa for more time that the one allowed will be considered undocumented since they will not have a valid document that authorizes them to maintain a legal presence in the country.
The B-2 temporary tourist visa is a temporary visa, so staying longer than authorized will make your presence illegal. If you remain in excess, you will be considered inadmissible to enter the US again for a period of 3 or 10 years.
Under immigration law, you cannot overstay your visa by more than 180 days. Therefore, if the deadline approaches, you must leave the US.
On our website you can also read about the business B-1 visa for those who wish to travel to the US for business purposes.
Consequences Of Staying In The US For More Time Than the Allowed
There are different consequences for all those who misuse the tourist visa by staying illegally:
- Illegal presence.
- Risk of deportation if they come into contact with an immigration authority.
- Inadmissibility from 3 to 10 years or permanently.
- Cancellation or removal of your tourist visa.
- Immigration detention.
In general, foreigners do not usually go to prison for misusing their tourist visa. In these cases, deportation is the punishment used for offenders.
It is possible for an alien to end up in immigration detention, especially if they commit an act that involves crimmigration. Paying an immigration bond could free the offender to later be expelled from the country.
What Is Unlawful Presence In The US?
Unlawful presence is the period in which an alien is in the United States without being admitted or possessing any document or permit to do so.
Those who entered the US illegally will not be able to adjust their immigration status. Even if they are eligible for a Green Card, they would have to apply through consular processing.
It is possible to apply for a waiver before leaving the country using Form I-601. However, you must show that there are other grounds for inadmissibility.
How Long Does It Take To Re-Enter The United States With A Tourist Visa?
The period of time a foreign national has to re-enter the US on a tourist visa depends on how long they stayed in the country.
- If their presence was 90 days or less, they will be able to return to the country again after leaving the US up to a maximum of 180 continuous days per year.
- If their presence was more than 180 days but less than a year, they will have to wait 3 years to re-enter the country on a tourist visa.
- Having been present illegally for more than a year, they will have to wait 10 years to re-enter the country on a tourist visa.
In these cases, requesting an immigration waiver could allow them to re-enter the country without having to wait years for it.
How Long Can I Stay In The United States On A Tourist Visa?
Aliens can only stay on a tourist visa in the United States for a maximum period of up to 180 days or 6 months. Note that:
- In some cases, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will establish a specific time of stay in the country, so it can be a period shorter than 6 months.
- However, if you are granted a stay of up to 6 months, you can enjoy your stay in the country even if in the interview with the embassy or consulate you have clarified that you would be for a few weeks.
It is always advisable not to exceed the date indicated with the stamp of your passport.
For overland travel, Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, indicates the day of entry into the country and the deadline for leaving the U.S. This form must be completed by individuals traveling overland to more than 40 km from the border or who remain in the US for more than 30 days.
Can I Enter The United States Multiple Times With One Visa?
You can enter the US several times with a single visa, as long as it is used for the indicated use. For example, if your visa is for tourism, your purpose in the US must be tourism.
In general, the visa is a permit for multiple entries as long as it does not exceed the established limit. This visa can be granted with a validity of up to 10 years, so you can use it as many times as necessary without the need to renew it.
How To Stay In The United States With A Tourist Visa?
Legally, it is not possible to stay in the US on a tourist visa. This is because the B2 tourist visa is designed to be a temporary visa.
If you intend to stay longer in the US, you must apply for or be eligible for a non-tourist visa. However, it is possible to change your tourist status for another through:
Only immigrants who marry a US citizen or if they have a US citizen child over 21 years of age, can apply for adjustment of status in the USA and thus legalize their situation.
Fiancées of an American may be eligible to apply for a K-1 visa and travel to the US without the need to apply for a B-2 tourist visa.
However, it is sometimes possible to adjust status if you arrived in the USA on a tourist visa and you are the fiancé(e) of an American citizen.
Of course, you must show that your marriage is bona fide and not fraudulent. To do this, you will be asked some essential questions to obtain permanent residence by marriage.
If you came to the United States as a tourist and have been the victim of violence or battery by a permanent resident or a US citizen, you may be eligible to apply for a VAWA visa.
Victims of Human Trafficking, migrant Smuggling or other crimes
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status allows young immigrants who have been homeless, abandoned, or abused to remain in the country legally.
Keep in mind that children or minors require a B-2 tourist visa to travel to the USA, so if they came to the country as a tourist and were denied entry, they may be eligible for SIJS.
If a foreign national entered the United States as a tourist and was presented with the opportunity to study legally, it is possible to adjust their status to obtain an F-1 or M-1 student visa.
Students can stay in the country longer than a tourist. It all depends on the duration of their studies.
There are other ways to change your tourist status and stay longer in the US:
- J-1 visa for exchange visitors.
- H-1B for professionals with college degrees.
- H-2A and H-2B visa for temporary workers.
- O visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities.
You can change your status as long as you legally maintain your initial status, in this case, the tourist visa.
Can A Tourist Stay More Than 6 Months In The United States?
A tourist may be able to stay in the United States for more than 6 months on a B-2 tourist visa, but is required to complete Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status to extend the stay.
If you do not respect the extension time of the tourist visa or do not apply for the extension and stay longer in the US, you will be breaking immigration law.
What Is A Tourist Visa Extension?
Tourists who wish to extend their stay in the United States beyond the time granted can apply for a tourist visa extension. To do this, they must file the application with USCIS.
Who Qualifies For A Tourist Visa Extension Of Stay?
The extension of a tourist visa stay must be for temporary purposes. For example:
- Medical matters.
- A recovery.
- Not being able to fly or return to their country of origin.
- Family mishaps.
- Circumstances where you will return but require more time to meet an unforeseen event.
How To Apply For A Tourist Visa Extension?
To apply for an extension of your tourist visa, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Meets the general requirements. Such as:
- Your nonimmigrant status is currently valid.
- You have not committed any crime.
- The authorities legally admit you with your nonimmigrant status.
- Your passport is valid.
- There are no reasons forcing you to leave the US.
- Completed and filed Form I-539.
Check the status of your extension request. The time to process an extension request varies.
- You can enter your case number to find out your application status.
- You can receive notifications about your request if you subscribe.
What Is A Visa Waiver?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a US government program that authorizes entry to the United States to citizens of other countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program.
A visa waiver gives long-term stayers in the United States the ability to exempt themselves from the 3- to 10-year unlawful presence bars. However, this type of process can be difficult to obtain.
Who May Be Eligible For A Visa Waiver?
Nonimmigrants eligible for a visa waiver are those who have received protection through humanitarian programs authorized by Congress, such as:
- Refugees or asylees.
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
- Victims of crimes applying for the U Visa.
- Victims of human trafficking and smuggling who apply for the T visa.
- Victims of domestic violence applying for the VAWA visa.
Is It Possible To Get Permanent Residence If I Stay Longer Than Allowed?
Immigration laws dictate that there are some ways to obtain a Green Card even if the person who entered stayed longer than allowed. This is achieved thanks to a family reunification in the United States.
To be eligible for a family petition, the immigrant must have a:
- US citizen spouse petitioning in their name.
- US citizen son or daughter over 21 years of age petitioning in their name.
Keep in mind that if you want to obtain a permanent residence or Green Card and you entered the country as a tourist, the worst mistake you can make is to apply for an extension of your tourist visa.
When you apply for an extension to apply for residency, you will be making it clear that your purpose of traveling to the USA on a tourist visa is to stay. Most people recommend the extension to avoid unlawful presence, however, you will be committing immigration fraud at the same time.
What Are The Requirements To Renew The Visa?
To renew the tourist visa in the USA, you must submit the following requirements:
- The visa you are trying to renew must be current or have expired within the last 48 months.
- You have a valid passport.
- Also a valid email address.
- You have a credit or debit card.
- The renewal must be processed from the same country.
- Applicants must renew the same type of visa that they hold.
Once you meet the corresponding requirements, you will need to follow the next steps:
- Complete DS-160 Form.
- Make the application payment.
- Send the documentation to the American consulate or embassy.
- Pick up the visa and passport to travel to the USA.
How Long Can I Stay In The US As A Visitor?
As we have mentioned throughout the article, visitors cannot legally stay in the USA beyond what is allowed by their tourist visa. By law, it is for a maximum period of 6 months.
Generally, a passport stamp without a written date means that the holder has been granted a stay of 6 months in the country.
Visa extensions can provide a much longer stay to the visitor who requests it, this allows them to stay in the country for a longer time than authorized. Applications usually require a good explanation of why you need to stay longer.
Although these types of requests are usually approved, it is advisable to hire a lawyer to help you during the process and thus avoid having to leave the country if you have just cause to stay longer than allowed.
What To Do If I Have Already Exceeded The Length Of Stay?
If you have already exceeded the legal physical presence time in the United States, we recommend that you check the following steps:
- Contact our immigration attorney immediately.
- Keep calm.
- Determine eligibility for an extension period on your visa.
- Comply with all immigration laws.
- Be patient.
What Can Our Immigration Attorney Do For You?
This article seeks to be informative and useful regarding: How long can we stay in USA with tourist visa? Now, to give you precise answers, it is important to know your case in detail. All legal matters can be stressful, complicated and difficult, especially if you want to manage them on your own.
At the law firm of Curbelo Law, attorney Carolina T. Curbelo and her team can help you address your legal needs, streamline the entire process, and represent you in court. Our offices are located in Ridgewood and Newark, New Jersey although we can assist you online and immigration experts are available to assist you in any situation you face.