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Overstaying visas: An invisible immigration issue

Coming to the United States as an undocumented immigrant is a difficult experience, particularly for those who feel as if they have no options for reprieve. However, much of the recent focus has been on those who have crossed the border illegally. While these individuals face an enormous amount of uncertainty, another group of undocumented immigrants are largely overlooked during discussions of immigration — those who overstay their visas.

Over each of the last seven years, undocumented immigrants who stayed past their visa expiration dates have outpaced the number of those who crossed the border illegally. The Center for Migration Studies reported that of the 515,000 people who arrived illegally in 2016, 320,000 had simply overstayed their visas. This means that there is a significant number of people who may be feeling confused or even worried about their options for staying in New York.

The reasons why people overstay their visas can be complicated and varied from person to person. However, in many cases, these individuals join either family members or other individuals that they already know. Most end up finding jobs and working in the U.S., largely invisible in the recent discussions around immigration.

U.S. immigration law is confusing, and recent changes to various policies have not made things any easier to understand. For those dealing with issues regarding expired visas, this can be worrying. But immigrants in New York do not have to tackle this issue alone. Speaking with an attorney who is well-versed in immigration law might help clarify a person’s options for remaining in the country legally.

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