Perhaps you’re in the U.S. with a B-2 visa, a non-immigrant visa issued to foreign citizens entering the United States for a temporary period for tourism or other non-business purposes. What happens if someone who is in the U.S. on a B-2 visa likes it here – and wants to stay? Can a Las Vegas immigration attorney help?

Maybe you’ve found an employer that you would like to work for, a school or a university that you would like to attend, or a business that you would like to invest in. Can you “trade in” a B-2 visa for a green card – that is, for lawful permanent resident status? If so, how?

WHAT IF YOU ARE IN THE U.S. UNDER THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM?

And what if you are in the U.S. without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and you would like to stay? Keep reading, and you will learn what steps to take if you have a B-2 visa – or if you’re in the U.S. without a visa – but you would like to stay longer or permanently.

You will need an experienced immigration lawyer’s help if you enter the U.S. as a visitor and then decide that you would like to stay.

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B-2 visas are usually approved for a length of six months. Extensions are available, provided that there have been no violations of the visa’s terms and conditions. A B-2 visa requires you to leave the U.S. by a particular date. That date is on your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A B-2 VISA?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, to obtain a B-2, the visa applicant must prove to the satisfaction of a consular officer that the applicant intends to return to his or her home nation after the visit to the U.S.

In other words, you may not enter the United States with a B-2 visa with the intention of requesting a green card after your arrival. However, if you enter the U.S. without that intention, and after a few days or weeks, you change your mind, that is perfectly appropriate and legal.

However, when you believe that you have a legitimate reason for requesting a green card – or requesting a different visa such as an F-1 student visa – you must begin the adjustment of the status process as early as possible before your scheduled departure date.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO AN IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM IN NEVADA?

If you are currently in the United States on a B-2 visa, and you would like to stay, speak right away – and before your B-2 visa expires – to a skilled Las Vegas immigration attorney.

What you cannot do is let your visa expire and then apply for a different visa, an extension, or a green card. If you overstay a visa, it is legally void as of your scheduled departure date, unless you’ve already requested an extension or you’ve already started the adjustment of status process.

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You must apply prior to your visa’s expiration. You cannot allow your visa to expire and then file for an extension or an adjustment of status. You must qualify for an extension of your existing nonimmigrant status in order for an adjustment of status request to be approved.

WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED TO OBTAIN AN ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS?

The adjustment of status request must be accompanied by a request for an extension of the existing status, because your current status must be extended while your adjustment of status request is pending.

Additionally, you must have a legitimate and tangible reason – such as education, employment, or marriage – to request an extension of your visa or an adjustment of your status.

If you overstay your B-2 visa, and if you are in the United States without authorization, it is a violation of U.S. law called “unlawful presence,” and you could be deported or subject to other penalties.

WHAT PENALTIES ARE POSSIBLE IF YOU OVERSTAY YOUR VISA?

Moreover, if you “accrue” 180 days of unlawful presence and then leave the U.S. voluntarily, you may not be allowed to return for three years. If you accrue a full year of unlawful presence and then leave the U.S. voluntarily, you may not be allowed to return for ten years.

In limited circumstances, waivers may be available for some of these penalties. Even if you have overstayed your visa, your attorney may – in some cases – be able to help.

immigration attorney helping clients

Immigration law is complicated, sometimes there are exceptions, and everyone’s situation is unique, so it is best to have the personalized advice and guidance that an award-winning immigration lawyer will provide.

HOW WILL AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER HELP YOU?

Your immigration attorney can guide you through the adjustment of status process and help you complete Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) accurately and completely so that there are no mistakes, misunderstandings, or unnecessary delays.

Depending on your precise circumstances, other forms and a number of legal documents may be required along with the Form I-485. Your immigration attorney’s advice and guidance will be invaluable in making certain that you meet all of the deadlines, requirements, and qualifications.

WHAT IF YOU ENTERED THE U.S. THROUGH THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM?

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of specific nations to enter the U.S. for tourism or business for up to ninety days without the need to obtain a visa.

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To obtain a visa waiver and enter the United States under the VWP, you must be a citizen of a nation that has been identified by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State as a VWP “program” nation.

If you are in the U.S. under the VWP, you will not apply for an adjustment of status if you want to remain in the United States – because you really have no “status” yet to adjust.

A person who enters the United States under the VWP may not request an extension of the original ninety-day period of stay. However, VWP visitors may seek a green card in the United States on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen or an application for asylum.

TO OBTAIN A VISA OR AN ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS, WHAT’S THE FIRST STEP?

In 2019, every immigration application and request is being scrutinized thoroughly. You must have legal assistance and advice that you can absolutely count on.

To obtain a visa or an adjustment of status, start by consulting an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney who will guide you through every step of the process.

Every immigration procedure requires patience and takes time, so make the call – or contact an immigration lawyer online, from wherever you are in the world – right now.