Many people come to my website searching to the answer for this question. The answer is complicated. It depends on how long you have overstayed your visa and whether you are willing or eligible to file a waiver to return if you are facing a 3 or 10 year ban. If you came on the visa waiver program and overstayed your stay, click here for more information. If you came to the US on a visitor’s visa or work visa and overstayed your stay then continue to read on. Please remember that if you are facing a ban on returning, you may be eligible for a unlawful presence waiver.
If you came on a valid nonimmigrant visa and you overstayed your authorized period of stay by more than 180 days (approx. 6 months) and less than 1 year, then you are facing a 3 year bar. This means you will have to remain outside of the country for 3 years, before you will be eligible for another nonimmigrant visa to return. This is also true if you are eligible for an immigrant visa, but were in the US as an overstay for between 6 months to a year. Nonimmigrant visas are typically discretionary and the consulate can refuse to offer you a visa even after the time period that you had to remain outside of the US has passed. If you are trying to obtain an immigrant visa and are otherwise eligible, then you will remain eligible once you have been out of the country for the appropriate period of time as long as you have kept in contact with the national visa center. (If you are worried about how to keep in contact, you can contact an immigration lawyer).
If you stayed over 1 year, then the above also applies to you but you will be banned from returning for a total of 10 years. Once you have stayed outside the country for 10 years, you will be eligible to return on a visa.
There is an unlawful presence waiver that will allow you back into the country without having to face the 3 or 10 year bar. In order to be eligible to file for the I-601 waiver, you must have a Lawful Permanent Resident or US Citizen spouse or parent who will face extreme hardship if you are not allowed back into the country. If you are interested in learning more about this waiver, please click here.
For those of you who did not leave the country after overstaying your visa and have a US Citizen spouse or parent who would face extreme hardship if you were seperated, you may be eligible to apply for the I-601A waiver from the US that allows you to obtain an immigrant visa in your home country without facing the unlawful presence bans. To talk more about this waiver process, feel free to contact me here.