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I know someone who left the country while on parole and he had also overstayed a student visa for nearly 20 years. He claims he doesn't know whether or not he was banned from the country. He's afraid to find out and he's afraid to come back to the states. Is there any luck of him being admitted back into the country? If so, will he just be arrested when/if he gets here?

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    'On parole', so your friend has been found guilty of some imprisonable offence, and he overstayed for 20 years. I'd think the US border guards will have him on a plane back to where he came from so quickly that his feet won't touch the ground. – user90371 Jul 3 at 3:49
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    If he absconded while on parole he may have an active warrant to serve out his prison term. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Jul 3 at 3:53
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    @ReddHerring: In the context of immigration, there's a separate concept called advance parole that has nothing to do with committing a crime. It could be that's what the friend is referring to. In any case, though, this seems like a matter for an immigration lawyer - it's beyond what someone can handle themselves with advice from the Internet. – Nate Eldredge Jul 3 at 4:39
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    He should be the one doing research. From my experience applicants who delegate researching immigration issues to a third party (except that party is an immigration attorney) typically are not successful. You’re working with secondhand information from him and you’re going to be giving him secondhand information on what you discover. A lot will be lost in transfer. – user 56513 Jul 3 at 7:24
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It's actually very simple - your friend will require a visa to enter the US, so they should apply for one, and be sure to declare their previous issues.

If their visa is approved, then they will most likely not have any further issues when entering the US.

If their visa is rejected, then they will not be allowed even travel to the US (unless they are planning to enter via Canada/Mexico - in which case they will not be allowed enter without a visa).

Based on what you've said it would seem unlikely they will be given a visa, but it's impossibly to say for sure without knowing the full details - applying is the only option that will give a definitive answer.

  • If he is wanted in the US, can they arrest him as soon as he enters the embassy? – gerrit Jul 3 at 8:04
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    @gerrit Although the embassy is considered US soil that’s not feasible. They’ll need an extradition approval to send him to the USA. Worst case notify local authorities to arrest him while preparing to submit an extradition request if its a serious crime. – user 56513 Jul 3 at 11:39
  • @user56513 Hmm... so if I'm a US fugitive in a country that doesn't extradite US citizens to the US (maybe I face the death penalty), I can still safely visit the US embassy to (say) renew my passport…? – gerrit Jul 3 at 11:41
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    @gerrit That extrapolation from what I wrote may be a figment of your own imagination. – user 56513 Jul 3 at 12:46
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    Oops, deleted one comment too many. The embassy is not considered US soil; it remains a part of the host country, but the host country agrees not to enforce its laws there, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961). – David Richerby Jul 3 at 15:02
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It's actually fairly easy (although not quick) to find out. You can file a freedom of information act request with ICE and find out what they have on file for you (you can't request the information of someone else). The correct agency should have something on file indicating whether or not there's a ban and what the duration is. This should also indicate whether or not it's possible to file a waiver since it tells you what kind the ban is (it should show a paragraph of the immigration act).

Edit: I think you need to have an address in the US for them to send the information to. So have your friend send a filled out and signed request to someone in the US who can mail it to ICE and receive the information.

  • Would it definitely be ICE and not CBP or USCIS in this instance? – Joe Malt Jul 3 at 15:36
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    Whether someone has a ban and for how long depends on the facts of the case, and whether it matches the conditions for inadmissibility in the law. They don't need to "have" something "on file for you". – user102008 Jul 3 at 15:48
  • @user102008 is correct. A "ban" usually doesn't exist on paper until you try to enter the United States for the second time. The US has no exit controls, although it does receive APIS information and I-94 forms from airlines and travelers, respectively. But if they have neither of those things on file for you in particular, they have no way of knowing whether you drove to Mexico until you return and present evidence that you were in Mexico. So they have to assess whether a ban exists at that time. – Kevin Jul 3 at 18:21
  • You're all mostly right. Obviously if ICE/CBP have nothing at all on file, there's no issue. You will have to tell them that you've been in the country before which will lead to more questions which will make them determine what the actual status is. Also any overstay makes you ineligible for the visa waiver program so you'll have to apply for a visa regardless, which will likely be denied (any overstay makes them question whether or not you have intent to leave the country, so non-immigrant visas tend to get denied). – xyious Jul 3 at 18:39

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