50

Is one allowed to travel back to one's country of origin using a valid passport issued by the consular office in the US? Would that trigger detention in the airport?

Overstayed over 2 decades and have a clean record.

  • 50
    20 Years is a long long time, I feel sorry that you were not able to legalize your stay in those 20 years... – Hanky Panky Sep 27 at 5:06
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    Answerers, please realize the OP is not asking for the effects of the overstay. Please ensure the two questions asked are answered. – CGCampbell Sep 27 at 16:33
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    this is unrelated to "travel" and should be migrated to maybe expats. – Fattie Sep 29 at 12:39
39

There are 2 aspects:

  • Will CBP allow you to exit the country?
  • Will the airline allow you to board?

The US doesn't formally have exit controls, so no agency is systematically checking exit documents. Even if a CBP officer did spot-check you, they'd go "My job is to get you to leave. Since you're leaving on your own, can I carry your bags for you? Guide you to your gate?"

Retribution isn't coming. What is coming, is future refusal when you try to re-enter the USA as a temporary visitor. Because you'll have a 10-year ban, and after that, you will have difficulty convincing them that your next visit will be temporary.

Today, they just want you to leave.

As far as the airline boarding -- If you are a citizen of country X, you are entitled to travel there. You need to show the airline proper proof of that, becuase they have a legal obligation not to fly you somewhere you'll be refused. Your passport issued by that country will suffice. Of course, beware of situations where you select a route through a third country and they want a transit visa or something.

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    Describing a later refusal of entry as "retribution" is ignoring the point of such refusals, and the meaning of the world itself. Entry is permitted given certain conditions - it is a privilege extended at the discretion of the country, not a right or a property being taken away from the person proposing entry. – Nij Sep 28 at 3:58
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    @Nij Yes, I'm just saying it that way becaus OP is expecting retribution, and I fear an answer of "there's none" may not be believable. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 28 at 4:03
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    @nij you sold me. Please leave comment #1 in place for reference. Thanks. . – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 28 at 4:13
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    @JJJ however, your question actually is "what can I do to satisfy CBP that I didn't overstay last visit?" Or perhaps "How can I sneak out of the US in a manner that lets me conceal my overstay from CBP?" – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 28 at 16:01
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    @JJJ if the US hasn't recorded an exit but has a record of entry from over 20 years ago, they will presume that the person overstayed and leave it to the person to prove otherwise. So the US knows you entered another country because you have to tell them so if you want to enter the US – phoog Sep 29 at 7:55
53

The US doesn't have exit checks. You can always exit the US if you don't have a pending arrest warrant. You won't be detained or deported.

You will likely be banned for ten years from coming back to the US and it will be virtually impossible to get a visitor visa afterward.

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    What time could the ten year ban be based on, when the exit is not recorded? – Volker Siegel Sep 29 at 2:25
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    @VolkerSiegel from the date of exit. When the person tries to get back in, they'll ask when she or he left . The ban starts then. If they can't establish that date because the person is uncooperative or not credible, then I guess they'd use the date of attempted reentry or perhaps the day before, presuming that the person just left and came back immediately. – phoog Sep 29 at 7:34
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    Since there are no exit checks you can probably exit with a pending arrest warrant as well ;-). (Perhaps you want to use a vehicle which is not tied to you, or cross the Rio Grande (it's trivial in that direction if you are looking Anglo). – Peter - Reinstate Monica Sep 29 at 20:57
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    RE "you won't be deported": Well, that would do no damage now, would it? ;-) – Peter - Reinstate Monica Sep 29 at 20:58
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    @PeterA.Schneider deportation would make a damage, because it is not simply "go on that plane", it is a procedure and during that procedure one is, effectively, in jail. – Mołot Sep 30 at 9:49
28

Yes, you are allowed to exit US, both legally (there is no law which would prevent you from leaving) and technically - unlike most other countries, there are no immigration checks when you leave the country.

Departing US after being in US illegally for more than 1 year triggers an automatic 10-years re-entry ban, however, the duration of the ban is only important for certain type of visas (mostly immigrant ones). A non-immigrant visa is unlikely to ever be granted to such a person even after formal ban expires.

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    "Departing US after being in US illegally for more than 1 year triggers an automatic 10-years re-entry ban" Technically, it's departing the US after accruing 1 year of "unlawful presence". One could have "overstayed", without accruing "unlawful presence", depending on what status they entered on and other circumstances. – user102008 Sep 27 at 18:44
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    @user102008 that it is indeed true, but I didn't feel the need to divulge into those quite complicated areas. – SergeyA Sep 27 at 18:48
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    But is it possible that the overstay won't be detected and thus not affect future entries? – WGroleau Sep 28 at 4:50
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    @WGroleau yes, it's possible, but there's no way really to find out. – phoog Sep 28 at 6:05
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    So, then the answer is more accurately "triggers a 10-year re-entry ban if detected." – WGroleau Sep 28 at 15:09

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