Immigration: Do’s and Don’ts for visa holders

Miscalculating stay and being unaware of current policies and procedures are some of the most common mistakes.

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We asked the 2017 Top Lawyers in Northern Virginia what rights visa holders should be aware of. Here’s what they had to say:

In dealing with immigration issues, a simple but fairly common mistake is being careless about counting time. For example, a visa waiver person is typically allowed to remain in the U.S. for 90 days. Let’s say the visa waiver person arrives on June 4; the person may assume that he/she can remain in the U.S. until Sept. 4. In fact, the person will have overstayed the authorized period of time by two days, because 90 days is not the same as three months. Similarly, the 180-day time frame given in certain kinds of cases is not the same as six months. Counting wrong can create a disaster.–Nancy M. Lawrence, Of Counsel, Odin, Feldman & Pittleman PC

You need to make sure your clients don’t overstay their period of lawful admission, even by one day. For example, if they are admitted to the U.S. until June 30, 2017, on their I-94 record and they do not depart the U.S. by then, they are considered out of status and unlawfully present. Their visa will be cancelled, and they will be required to apply for any new visa in their home consulate. If they accumulate over 180 days of unlawful presence and depart the U.S., they will be subject to a three-year bar; if they overstay over a year and then depart the U.S., they will be barred for 10 years. It is critically important that clients do not overstay.” –Martha Schoonover, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig LLP

“It is imperative that foreign nationals entering the U.S. as either nonimmigrants or as immigrants understand the current environment. There are many policy changes that have been made and that are in process, and it is important to keep abreast of these changes. The number of people being detained, [placed] into secondary inspection and/or turned around at ports of entry are at an all-time high.” –Laura Reiff, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig LLP

(2017 Top Lawyers, Advice from the 2017 Top Lawyers, December 2017)