Penalties for Being in the United States Without Authorization

Home > Blog > Penalties for Being in the United States Without Authorization

Penalties for Being in the United States Without Authorization

There are many penalties associated with being in the United States without proper authorization. The penalties someone will face will depend on how they entered the United States. Some individuals are lawfully admitted into the United States and then overstay their visas. Other individuals unlawfully enter the United States and remain within the country. Different laws are applied to these different categories of people unlawfully within the country. It is crucial that anyone that is in the country illegally knows these differences, and the options that may be available to them to remain within the United States.

Penalties and Options for Individuals that Lawfully Entered the Country

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are approximately 666,582 overstays within the United States every year. Overstays refer to individuals that legally entered the country and stayed longer than the temporary amount of time their visa stated they were allowed to. Technically, these individuals may be subject to deportation, but that does not necessarily mean that they will be deported. 

For example, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has the discretion to allow individuals that have overstayed to obtain a marriage-based green card. There are many factors that will affect a person’s eligibility, and so, it is important that anyone who has overstayed speaks to an immigration lawyer for help. 

Penalties and Options for Individuals Who Did Not Lawfully Enter the Country

Individuals who were not authorized to enter the United States cannot typically obtain a green card once they are in the country, although there are some limited exceptions. Along with deportation, there are other penalties these individuals may face. 

A person who has remained in the country unlawfully for more than one year is typically deported and is barred from returning to the United States for ten years. Individuals who are unlawfully in the country for more than 180 days but less than one year will be deported and barred from returning to the United States for three years. In order to waive these bans, a person would have to prove that a close relative, such as a spouse, parent, or minor child, would face extreme hardship if they were removed from the country.

Certain individuals can also apply for a provisional waiver. These waivers allow individuals who are unlawfully in the United States but have married or have an immediate relative that qualifies to apply for a waiver. While individuals are waiting for a decision on that waiver, they can remain in the United States. If the waiver is approved, the individual must return to the embassy in their homeland and, if they meet all other eligibility requirements, they can return back to the United States.

Do You Need Help Remaining in the Country? Our Illinois Immigration Lawyers can Help

It is unsettling to know that you are in the United States unlawfully. If you are, it is important to remain calm and to understand that you have options. At Kriezelman, Burton & Associates, LLC, our Chicago immigration lawyers can help. We will advise on the options you have, guide you through whatever process is appropriate, and give you the best chance of remaining in the country. Call us today or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.