Unlawful Presence: What To Do When You Lose Legal Status

What To Do For Unlawful Presence Vs Unlawful Status

Categories: Resources
Published: February 28, 2023

What Do I Do If I’m Out Of Status? Video Summary

Are you in the US illegally? In this video, Joseph helps to decipher the 4 main considerations to determine if you’re staying in the US illegally. 

  1. Unlawful presence
  2. Unlawful status
  3. Length of stay
  4. Other ways to fix status


Trust us, you’ll want to watch until the end!

Full Video Transcript

(Short clip from Fresh Prince of Bel Air S4E5)

“When did you get your green card?”

“Green card? What, what green card?”


(0:07) What happens if you stay in the US illegally? Well, illegal is actually a too broad of a term. It depends on if it’s unlawful presence, unlawful status, how long you’ve stayed here, and what other ways can you get back into status. These are the four factors that we’re going to dissect in this video. I hope you enjoy.


(Tsang logo splash)


(0:29) Hi everyone! This is Joseph. I’m the managing partner here at Tsang & Associates where we solve legal problems with creative solutions. So the legal problem is a lot of my clients would like to say, “Well, what if I just stay here illegally? Like just pass the time that, I mean, next time I come in just say ‘sorry.’” That’s very american of them to do but that’s not how it works.


(Short clip from The Other Guys movie)


(0:50) If you are a tourist, you come here on a B-1/B-2 visa, you stayed past one day or two days, you come back in next time, you might get pulled into a room and questioned for an hour or two, depends on who you are and the circumstance. Most likely you will be okay; give you a warning and let you in. That’s the least severe.


If you have stayed past 180 days your validity date, what that means is you’ve accrued 180 days of unlawful presence and that will give you a three-year bar before you can enter the US again. If you continue to stay the 180 days becomes one year now, you have a 10-year bar. And eventually it becomes a permanent bar. You can always apply for a waiver and when your waiver is approved then you can be allowed back in but that is unlawful presence.


(1:39) Now, let’s talk about unlawful status. What this means is if you enter the country and then you want to change to a different status, and something horribly wrong happens, and you don’t get that other status, well, then the period that you’re transitioning, that is unlawful status. But, during that time you’re not being punished so you’re not accruing any unlawful presence. So even though it’s past 180 days or a year, you are okay. However, once you get the denial, BOOM, that’s when the unlawful presence starts.


(2:10) Alright. Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. If you are here in the United States unlawfully, illegally, where you’re accruing unlawful status as well as unlawful presence, you might have been here for over a year or two years, you are definitely barred from being in the US if you leave the country. What can you do? 


If you marry a US citizen, they will waive your unlawful presence, but the marriage has to be real. Just want to say that. Right? If you’re doing that just to get the person out of unlawful status to circumvent immigration law then both parties will be punished, but if it’s for true love, all the power.


(short clip from Cinderella)


(2:53) Alright. Pro tip time. You want to explain why you fell out of status, right? Why did you stay here illegally for this long? Maybe you were supposed to leave in April, but then you broke your leg, you were in the hospital, you got COVID. Just document that


USCIS, the government officials, they are typically reasonable. I know a lot of people beg to differ, but if you present your document well and you clearly explain. They are people too. There’s all sorts of things that’s possible, but you just have to prepare document and prove. And that is what we do here at Tsang & Associates.


(3:24) Alright. Bonus coupon time. If you do one of the paid consultations with us, and during the consultation or after the consultation, you mention “hey, by the way, I saw your video. Do I get a coupon?” That will signal to us that we are going to give you a sample and how to prepare this case, right? Normally we reserve that for other attorneys who retain us, but if you watch this video, we’ll treat you like one of them.


Alright. That’s it for this video. If you liked it, please smash that Like button below. Subscribe and I’ll see you later. Bye-bye.