Difference between Visa Validity and Authorized Length of Stay.

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Difference between Visa Validity and Authorized Length of Stay.

In our last blog post, we were dealing with difference between visa stamp and visa status. Other related terms that are very important to understand and are usually being confused are visa validity and authorized length of stay in the U.S. In some cases, not distinguishing between these two terms can have serious consequences. So let’s take a closer look on their meaning.

If you got your visa stamp, the expiration along with the issuance date of your visa is stated directly in your passport. The time between visa issuance and expiration date is called your visa validity. A visa alone doesn’t permit entry to the U.S. It simply indicates that your application has been reviewed by a U.S. consular officer at an American embassy or consulate, and that the officer determined you’re eligible to travel to the port-of-entry for a specific purpose. The port-of-entry can be an airport, a seaport or a land border crossing. Visas can be issued for any number of entries, from as little as one entry to an unlimited number of entries, for the same purpose of travel.

Upon arriving to the port of entry, the Customs and Border Protection officer will determine if you are allowed to enter and how long you are permitted to stay in the U.S. On the admission stamp or paper Form I-94, the immigration inspector records D/S (duration of status) or a specific date by which you must leave the country. D/S means that you are allowed to stay for as long as you maintain your status, for example in case of H1B visa, it is a status of foreign worker in specialty occupation. The admitted-until date shown on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 is the official record of your authorized length of stay in the United States. USCIS warns that you cannot use the visa expiration date in determining or referring to your permitted length of stay in the U.S.

As you can see, it can easily happen that your visa is valid for several years but your authorized stay is limited to a few months. Therefore, you have to be cautious and carefully review your visa documents. If you fail to depart before the end of your authorized period of stay, it is considered as a violation of U.S. immigration law. And you certainly don’t want this to happen.

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