Getting a visa is a very important step for coming to the United States. But some of the rules about them can be confusing. An immigration lawyer can help you understand the rules that apply to your situation.
What Is a Visa?
Many people think of a visa as permission from the U.S. government to enter the country. This is only partly right. A visa is really permission to travel. It allows you to come to a port of entry, such as an airport.
Before you can go anywhere else, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent or other official has to inspect and clear you. If you were honest in your visa application, there should not be a problem. But agents can refuse you entry if they believe you are lying about why you are coming to the country. Other things can also make you ineligible for entry:
- Having been convicted of certain crimes
- Having certain mental illnesses
- Some diseases
Most of the time, consular officials find this kind of information during your visa application. But sometimes it only comes to light after your visa has been issued.
How Long Does Your Visa Allow You to Stay in the U.S.?
Many people are confused about visa expiration dates. The date printed on your visa tells you how long you have to travel to the United States, not how long you may stay. Once again, CBP officials have the final say.
When you arrive with a temporary visa, the inspector will give you a completed I-94. This form shows how long you may stay:
- A specific date means you must leave by then.
- Duration of status (D/S) means you may stay as long as you are doing what your visa allows, such as attending school.
When you arrive on an immigrant visa, you get temporary proof of your legal residence status. This is usually a written note on either a stamp in your passport or on a completed I-94.
Locate a Local Washington Immigration Lawyer Today
The rules for visas and other immigration topics are confusing. You may need help figuring out which ones apply to your case. Call now to speak with an immigration attorney in Washington at 877-913-7222.