Consequences and penalties for illegally entering the United States without a Visa

Consequences and penalties for illegally entering the United States without a Visa

Entering the United States illegally has serious consequences. It does not matter if the person crossed the border by hiring a “coyote” or with a fake passport. Any person who enters American soil illegally will be subjected to severe punishment and can be convicted of a crime and held responsible for a civil violation under U.S. immigration laws.

Another grave consequence from entering the United States without a visa is that the illegal entry will be recorded. The person who has entered illegally and in the future wishes to apply for a green card, or a visa will be negatively affected resulting in the denial of any immigration benefit. It is strongly advised to revise the requirements of the types of visas for the United States and apply through the legal process.

Not all countries have the same entry requirements. The United States recognizes several countries in their Visa Waiver Program, therefore, certain countries like The Netherlands, Spain, among many others, must complete an online travel authorization called the USA ESTA. This is mandatory for all citizens from visa waiver nations.

What is an illegal entry?

An illegal entry is the act of foreign nationals crossing the borders into a country without going through the proper channels, therefore violating the country’s immigration law. The term the US immigration law uses is “improper entry” which includes:

  • Entering the United States at any time or place other than the one designated by U.S. immigration officer.
  • Attempting to enter the United States at any time or anywhere else other than the one designated by U.S. immigration officer.
  • Eluding examination by a U.S. immigration officer.
  • Attempting to enter or obtain entry to the U.S. by a willfully false or misleading representation. For example, lying on a visa application or buying a passport or green card.

It is important that people know that anyone who enters the US without the proper legal channels and with the permission of the immigration authorities is inadmisible. This can affect the person’s eligibility for a green card or other immigration status.

Penalties for Entering the US without a visa

The penalty for entering the US without a visa the first time is a fine or an imprisonment for up to six months, or sometimes both. In the case of a second offense, the person can be fined or imprisoned for up to two years.

There is also a separate section of the US immigration law that adds penalties for reentry or attempted reentry. In the case of entering the country illegally on a second occasion, the person will face harsher consequences. The crime is no longer treated as a misdemeanor, but a felony.

Monetary punishment is likely to occur when someone enters the US without a visa. Jail time is also a possibility. Those who wish to travel to the United States should consider the consequences of entering illegally. A first attempt of illegal entry will also damage the person’s possibility to obtain a visa through the legal channels.

Is it a crime to Enter the US illegally?

Entering the United States illegally is a Crime, as we have already established, it is punishable financially or with prison time. Each year, the US Border Patrol apprehend thousands of people every year who try to cross the border illegally. The first time, the illegal entry will be treated as a misdemeanor. If repeated after being deported, the illegal entry becomes punishable as a felony.

Travelers should know that there are different types of visa for the United States and are highly advised to apply for a visitor visa, or in the case of citizens from visa waiver country should obtain the USA ESTA. The advantage that these citizens have is that they can complete the ESTA registration within minutes by completing an online form. This simple process should encourage travelers to the USA to comply with immigration laws.

Can I get a tourist visa if I’m in the United States illegally?

The short answer for this question is no. A visa is an entry document that is issued by the United States government overseas at a consulate or embassy. Once you are in the US, you can apply for an extension of your current visa. In the case that you entered the country illegally it will be more difficult to obtain legal status to remain in the country.

Bear in mind that staying past the expected departure date on your US visa can have serious impact in your future. Your visa will be voided automatically and you will not be able to apply for a new visa at any consulate outside your home country. Worse, in some case you might not be allowed to return to the US for a number of years.

Make sure you also understand that the date you are expected to leave the United States will be determined upon your entry, by an immigration officer. Your expected departure date will be shown on your I-94 arrival form.

What you can do is request an extension of your stay before the departure due date. This will also depend on your visa type. Tourists with category B-2 visas are allowed to request an extension. If you qualify for the ESTA and plan to stay in the US longer than 90 days, it is best that you request a visa at a US Embassy or Consulate before your trip to the United States. The ESTA is valid for a two-year period, but this does not mean that you can stay in the US for that time. The US ESTA allows you to make multiple short-term entries and these should not exceed 90 days.

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