You know that your visa has an expiration date and that you need to leave the United States when it expires, or you need to renew or extend it so that you can stay. But when should you do that?
Do you wait until your visa expires and then try to get another one? Or should you actually get this process underway in advance?
Apply before the expiration date
The U.S. government notes that you need to apply for the extension prior to the current visa’s expiration date, and they also say that you should do that “well before” the end of that initial visa. These things take time. Do not assume that you can apply on the day your visa expires and get everything sorted out in time to stay. You are much better off getting that application in well in advance so that you don’t run into any legal issues.
What if you don’t apply soon enough?
If you don’t apply for the renewal soon enough and overstay your visa, you are then in the country illegally. Remember, a visa gives you permission to legally enter the U.S., but only under the terms of that visa. The expiration date is just one of those terms. Others include the type of visa that has been issued, from a work visa to a tourism visa.
In fact, when people talk about illegal immigration, they often focus on things like illegal border crossings. The reality, though, is that many people who do not have legal status came to the country on visas and then simply did not leave when they were supposed to do so. This can lead to deportation. Make sure you’re aware of the proper legal steps to take.