Are you visiting the United States on a tourist Visa, and you want to know how long it will be until you can come back using your Visa? I’m Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, your friendly immigration lawyer in Texas, and I’m here to answer all your immigration questions.
The answer to this question is not a clear, bright-line rule. There isn’t a law or regulation or policy that says, if you’ve been in the U.S. for 100 days, you have to be out of the U.S. for 100 days. The general rule of thumb is that when you have a 10-year tourist Visa, that gives you insurance for entrances up to six months at a time, you obviously should not be residing in the US using that Visa. So the general rule of thumb is that you need to be spending more time outside of the U.S. than you are spending inside of the U.S.
I can tell you from my 15 years of practice, seeing lots of people come in and out of their tourist Visas – that the shorter the time is in the US, the better off you’ll be. So if you only come in for a week or two weeks at a time and then you go out and you wait at least a month to come back, you’re going to have less trouble. If you come in and you stay five months or even close to six months, certainly you are overstaying.
The general principle is to try and keep your trips pretty short. Generally, you always want to stay out of the country longer than you were in the country. The longer that you were in the country, the longer your timeout should be.
For example, if you come into the country and you stay for five months, you want to stay out of the country for at least six months before you come back. If you are coming in and you’re spending a lot of time, maybe you should be thinking about what other Visa options there are that are available to you.
That would be a good time to consult with someone like me to think about what your goals are. Where do you really want to live? Maybe you have employment opportunities here in the US. Maybe you want to study and can look into a student Visa or a vocational Visa.
Maybe you’re dating someone who has U.S. citizenship here and you guys are thinking about getting married. You can look through and think through what it would be like to do a fiance Visa or to come in, get married, and do an adjustment of status. It’s really critical to have all the information as you’re making these plans because you don’t want to violate your Visa.
For example, if you come in on a temporary Visa with the intention to reside permanently, you could be violating your Visa. So, you want to really think through the timing of your plans and what you’re carrying with you across the border.
Border patrol or CBP in the airport will be able to check your bags, phone, laptop, and all your documents. If they see something indicating that you have the intention of residing in the US or working in the US on a tourist Visa, they could block your entry. When they do that, they issue a type of deportation. They can call an expedited removal and that creates a whole bunch of other hurdles to getting in.
So, the short answer to the question is – stay out longer than you’ve stayed in the US. Keep your visits to the US short and don’t plan to work or reside in the United States without consulting with an immigration lawyer first.
The key takeaway is to stay outside of the US longer than you’ve stayed inside. Keep your visits short, and avoid planning to work or reside in the United States without consulting an immigration lawyer. Understanding and adhering to these guidelines will help you make the most of your Visa while complying with U.S. immigration regulations.
I am the managing partner of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. Upon graduating from the University of Texas for college and law school, I received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 2008, completed at American Gateways. My project served the detained families seeking asylum. After my fellowship, I entered private immigration practice. My firm offers family-based immigration, such as greencards and naturalization, deportation defense, and humanitarian cases such as asylum, U Visa, and VAWA. Everyone at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is bilingual, has a connection to our cause, and has demonstrated a history of activism for immigrants. To us, our work is not just a job. After the pandemic we began offering bankruptcy services in addition to immigration I realized how much lack of information there is in financial literacy resources in Spanish.
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