Tourist Visas & How To Extend Your Stay
''El Show Sin Fronteras''
Spanish Video Above Translated In English Below
Welcome once again to our Show Sin Fronteras, as we are always looking to bring you the latest on what is happening with immigration and new updates as they happen.
Today we will continue with this detailed information on what is needed when a person intends to travel to the United States or has already traveled to the United States, and unfortunately for some situations, your Tourist Visa is getting close to the expiration date.
Is It Possible To Extend A Tourist Visa?
If for any reason it is necessary to stay longer, perhaps because a family member is sick and needs help, or perhaps it is not safe to return to your country because the number of COVID-19 cases is too high, or any other reason, it is necessary to file an application with immigration explaining the reason for the extension of your visa.
The difficulty is the time it will take to deliver this extension, because the wait for the response of this extension will be at least 5 months, and that is why it is necessary to ask for the extension almost immediately after entering the United States, because if you wait too long and if for example you have been here for 5 months and you wait for the extension and you find out that you have been denied and you stayed in the country all that time and your Visa expired, that is already a presence in the country without permission, and that can affect your eligibility to come again in the future.
To have a better understanding of this process, our Austin Immigration Lawyer Kate explains whether you need an attorney to file for this extension: ''No, in my opinion, it should not be necessary to seek a lawyer just to extend a permit under a Tourist Visa, but because of the current situation, they are complicating the process a little bit according to what we are seeing from our office".
We have pending cases because of the complications in Visa extensions, and that is why it is advisable in my experience to have a reliable and professional lawyer for your Visa extension so that you can get your entry permit once for 6 months on a Tourist Visa.
The timing of these extensions is very important and that's why I say it would be advisable to have someone helping you in that process.
Tourist Visa Renewal
When would be the perfect time to renew these Visas? And what would be the precise moment that does not affect our customers?
Kate shares with us: ''In a perfect world it would be good to apply at least a month after the first entry, but most people don't know if in one or two weeks after their entry, they are going to want to stay longer".
If it is almost time to leave the United States and something happens, perhaps a family member is in the hospital, for example, it would be necessary to send an application to immigration offices that will normally prove to be successful.
It's about filling out the form well, submitting the required evidence, and making sure that everything is going to be okay at the end of the day, and that's why I say that most people can't apply because they're not ready to ask for the extension at the time it's perfect to do it, but if they're doing it late, you need to know exactly what you have to submit to immigration and give a good explanation.
Leaving The U.S. With An Expired Visa
A very common question we are asked by our clients in the office is the following: What if they already entered with their Tourist Visa and it expired but they leave the U.S. without renewing it? Are they going to have any problems returning to the country with that Visa?
This depends on the type of Visa and how long you stayed after the Visa expired because the law in the U.S. states that someone who has been in the U.S. for more than 6 months is punished for 3 years.
For example, you stayed 7 months after your permit, you will have to wait 3 years to be able to return to the country, that is the law to be able to return, although you also have to check if there are going to be questioned at the border because Border Patrol has the authority to take away or cancel a Visa and to deport if they do not like the explanation or why the person was given more time than allowed.
I am thinking of a case we had years ago of a tourist who came from Australia, and this person stayed only a few days after her permit expired, about 48 hours because of something that happened with the flight, and the next time when she came back she was not ready for the questions, and the Border Patrol agent canceled her Visa, did deportation and that person had a partner in the United States and could not return to be with her partner.
It was a very difficult situation in this family, so with things like entering and leaving the country, it's always a good idea to check before you do anything, or if you overstayed you can talk to us to explain the situation so you can plan your travel in the future because if you get to the airport at the time and you run into an official and you're already prepared with a letter of explanation from the airport or your airline that you're flying with and you explain the cancellation of your flight, you're going to be ready to be able to enter again, but if you're not ready with an explanation you may have problems".
What Happens To My Tourist Visa If I Want To Adjust My Status?
A Tourist Visa is only for tourism and it is not to allow you to look for ways to stay permanently in the United States, so if you are asking for an extension of your Visa so you can get married or so you can submit a request for the U Visa, it will be automatically denied because it is not possible to extend your Tourist Visa just to request a legal and permanent stay in the country.
At such times you have to decide whether you are going to risk for an adjustment of status.
Let's say that if someone qualifies because they married a U.S. citizen they can apply for permanent residency, and their status will change from tourist to a person in the immigration adjustment process.
In my opinion, that person will have a safe exchange and will not be at risk of being deported, although if someone has suffered a crime and made a report to the police, that person knows that he or she can apply for a visa based on having suffered a crime.
That person can also apply for a change of status to a U Visa, but the U Visa has a wait of years and there is no protected status during that wait.
In that case, the person is going to have to make a decision, because they are going to lose their tourist status and they are going to have to focus on their future U Visa status, but during the wait for their U Visa they are going to have the legal status equivalent to an undocumented person, and this is perhaps worthwhile even if there is a risk of returning to your own country.
That's why we always say that each person has their own situation, their own case, and their own story.
It is something worth consulting with us privately as we offer a free, confidential consultation to investigate the risks of staying in the U.S. and applying for a Visa or the benefits of a Visa.
Traveling Pregnant To The United States
A question asked by our dear audience: Is it possible to use the Tourist Visa for medical purposes if I am pregnant? Can I travel to the United States to have my baby?
Our lawyer Kate tells us: ''Yes, the answer to the first question of whether someone is coming under the Tourist Visa to get medical treatment is fine if that person can pay for services, but should not use the free services offered by emergency rooms for example, as it is a violation of the Tourist Visa to use medical treatment without paying for it".
If that person has to make an urgent visit to the doctor because they broke a bone or fracture for example, and they can pay the $500,000 or whatever amount they're going to charge them, that's fine.
The other question is whether someone can come and have their baby here in the United States, and the answer is that they should not.
Many people do it and did it decades ago this is the way we have many citizens born at the border or near the border, but in my experience, if immigration or Border Patrol sees that a woman is pregnant and is about to have her baby, they are not going to give her admission to enter the United States because they think she is going to have her baby there.
Any person who is born in the United States is an American citizen because that's the law, and that's why they don't want people coming here on tourist visas just to have a baby.
Can Your Tourist Visa Be Taken Away For An Arrest?
Another question our audience asks us is the following: If I am detained and I entered the country with my Tourist Visa, could I lose it?
Kate shares with us: ''Yes, it is possible to lose a Visa, in fact, it is easy to lose it because normally your Visa approval and stay depends on the Consulate or an immigration officer."
They make this decision, and they can decide whether to give that permission to people or not.
Border Patrol agents have the power to open your bags, check your phone, check to see if you have a check stub or a U.S. driver's license or other evidence that proves a planned life in the United States such as a job, and not just a job because it can also be a very small project, and if they think that looks like a job and that person is going to support themselves during their visit, they can cancel the visa.
They also don't like it when they don't see a return ticket, so we highly suggest to have a ticket back to your country of origin already bought, have enough money or savings to support yourself during your time in the United States because all of those things matter and officers will check this to determine your eligibility to enter the country.
When someone has had their Tourist Visa for many years, for 8 years, for example, has 2 visits every year and has always left before their permit expires, it is easier because that person has a history that the officer will review in the system, and will realize that there is no problem.
If it is your first or second time or the last time you stayed until the expiration of your permit, like 5 and a half months, or it looks like you have a life in the United States half the time you entered, or in fact, you are already living inside the United States, it starts a process called Secondary Inspection, which is when they send people to another office to be interrogated, and that is horrible because it is a very stressful situation.
Sometimes they decide that this person is committing fraud with their Visa and they are automatically canceled.
Border Patrol agents have the power to do a type of deportation which is called Expedited Removal and when they cancel the Visa and deport you back immediately, you need a waiver which is not easy to obtain.
Consequences Of Lending A Visa
We know that there are people who come to the United States and decide to stay, but decide that it is good to return the permit with a friend or relative, Is this something advisable or can it harm them to do that?
Kate comments: ''It is not recommended, first because it is a type of fraud and this can hurt your chances in the future, but if we are talking about someone who is staying in the United States, I imagine that person is going to have plans to settle or stay here permanently, but what is going to happen after they marry a citizen after their children turn 21 or after they qualify for a U Visa, and it is worth noting that Congress passes an immigration reform that gives Parole to all people who have 10 years in the United States".
In this case, the person will have to prove his/her stay in the United States for the entire time he/she has been inside, and if there is evidence that shows that the person returned because someone (friend or relative) entered with his/her permission 2 years ago, that will be a very difficult obstacle to prove his/her time in the United States, and most likely that person will be punished for fraud.
So there is no benefit because, in my experience, immigration is not checking these returned permits at the bridge, it is not like every month they check the entries from 4 or 7 months ago and see that no one entered with their permit.
That means they are in the United States and we are going to look for them, and that doesn't happen.
They're also not going to protect a person who has overstayed, because it's not like immigration is going to check who they're going to try to find in the system.
How To Obtain A Tourist Visa?
Many persons have doubts or are misinformed on how to obtain a B1/B2 Visa and whether they need to hire an immigration attorney for this. Getting a Tourist Visa for the first time at the Consulate is a process that does not require a lawyer because we cannot intervene in the decision they make.
In my experience, it is not worth paying a professional just for this type of case.
I am not talking about other cases because when we are talking about applying for a Tourist Visa for the first time, in my opinion, it is not necessary to have a lawyer. After all, each Consulate is going to have its policies and opinions about who can request and receive Tourist Visas and it is easier in some countries than in others.
For example, it is difficult for Mexicans or Venezuelans to receive a Tourist Visa to the United States because there are so many people applying for the Visa and they will want to confirm that the person applying for the Visa has a reason to return to their home country because they have a good job, have a property, have a family, have a lot of savings or a business.
That is something that in fact for a person who does not have a good job or does not have a lot of money in their savings account, is not going to be possible and we can't do anything to get that applicant approved.
Tourist & Travel Visa Expiration
A question from our audience has to do with a family that is planning to travel to the United States, and they are living in Mexico and have been renewing their Tourist Visa for many years, however, they are 2 months away from the expiration of their Tourist Visa. How long before this Visa expires are they allowed to enter the United States?
Our attorney Kate informs us: ''There's not a very clear answer, but if someone has been on their Visa for 2 months and they have plans to come into the country to go shopping, the Border Patrol officer is going to give them a permit for a day or two, so if your trip is very short and you have enough time on your Visa, it's possible to get in, but if someone has only been on their Visa for 2 months and they want to come by plane to stay almost the whole time, I imagine the officer is going to take issue with that and say: No, you must extend your Visa for 10 more years at the Consulate before entry and that's why every situation is different, but only if it's not a very short trip and your Visa is within the time frame, it's usually fine".
Something to highlight is that the airlines usually ask for 6 months or more than 4 months that you have a valid Visa for you to be able to board the plane.
Attorney Kate adds: ''Yes, an important point is that we always have questions from people who comment to us: I have 3 months on my Visa but I want to go to the country for a month by plane, or I have only had my 2nd dose of the vaccine, or they don't have Covid vaccines from the approved list in my country or What documents do I need?
Whenever you have such questions you should call the airline.
At the last show, I was researching the new policies and realized that I am going to have to take a negative Covid test for my return to the United States after my planned trip, and I didn't know that.
These are things that are changing daily for updated information about flights or questions about documents or vaccinations to be fulfilled, you should contact the airline you will use before traveling, you should contact the airline you will be using before you travel..''
Visa Waiver Or ESTA Visa
Here is a question that reads as follows: If a person was admitted as a witness in any program who served as an informant or accompanying family member on terrorism or organized crime, can they file for an extension of their Visa?
Kate informs us: ''It depends on the type of Visa, and indeed that is something we can certainly review in a consultation to advise on your specific situation.''
Our attorney will tell us a little more about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Kate: ''Visa Waiver Program or also known as ESTA Visa, is for countries that do not have many immigrants in the country such as countries in Europe for example, and if a person from those countries wants to visit the United States they do not have to process anything through the consulate to apply for the Tourist Visa.
They can apply online for the Visa Waiver Program or Visa ESTA, and they can enter for 3 months in one trip to the country.
It is almost like the Tourist Visa but they give less time on each visit the person makes to the United States.''
In case you have additional questions about Tourist Visas, your upcoming trip and your adjustment of status, or about your specific case, you can contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a short 10 minute evaluation of your case via telephone we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don't miss our weekly broadcasts via Facebook, YouTube y Twitch.