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Hello A bit of background: I moved to the US in 1979 and lived and worked there until i left in 1994.

I have 2 children (both born in my home country of the UK). The daughter was born in 1988 and so from then until 1994 she was on my passport and visa.

I have never been back to the US (I had a complicated pregnancy in ‘94 and unplanned but I couldn’t travel back after my son was born) however my daughter travelled in 2009 and was stopped at immigration saying she’d previously overstayed a visa. When they realised she only would have been 5 at the time they let her through and since then she’s had a redress number and been fine.

I am wanting to go back this year for a 2 week holiday. Attached is the visa I had - multiple entry, indefinite? How can this have been overtstayed? Can it possibly be that they made an error with my daughter and I won’t have any issues?

  • I agree that this belongs on expatriates. When you post it there, please add more data. For example, what was your authorization for work in the US? Jan 25, 2020 at 13:58
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    I disagree that this belongs on expatriates. It concerns a desire to travel to a country for a short visit, apparently after having overstayed a visitor visa in the past.
    – phoog
    Jan 25, 2020 at 14:16
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    @PatriciaShanahan sure, but consider someone who wonders whether they are inadmissible to the US because they have a certain disease. Does that mean the question belongs on a Q&A site about health?
    – phoog
    Jan 25, 2020 at 16:34
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    Like phoog, I'm wondering whether you had another visa or change of status paperwork or anything else during the 15 years you lived and worked in the US, because the visa you've shown us here doesn't permit work or long-term stays. Do you know whether you were working legally in the US during that time? What was the work visa you overstayed in 1994? Jan 25, 2020 at 23:09
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    I'm a bit confused as to how, if you entered the US in 1979 and did not leave until 1994, that you had a child born in the UK in 1988? Wouldn't you have had to leave the US to do so? It seems from the image that you re-entered the US at least twice during that time period, so I suspect you did not actually stay in the US for 15 years. Do you have any more details about your travel during this time? It may be helpful later when you go to apply for a future visa. Jan 26, 2020 at 1:08

1 Answer 1


How can this have been overtstayed?

Because the validity of a US visa has nothing to do with the allowable duration of stay on any one visit.

When you entered the US, you would have been authorized for a period of stay, normally six months. There would have been a separate piece of paper that the immigration officer would have stamped with the same stamp seen in the image. Additionally, on the line at the bottom of the stamp would have been written "B-1" or "B-2" and a date would have been written or stamped. That date was the end of your authorized period of stay.

See What were the indefinite validity visas that used to be issued by the US before VWP was created? on this site for more information about the visa itself.

As you can see from the answers to the linked question, the visa in the image is no longer valid, despite its having been issued with unlimited validity. Therefore, to fly to the US as a citizen of the UK, you'll need either ESTA authorization or a new B visa. When you apply for ESTA, you'll have to answer yes to the question about previous overstays. Your ESTA application will most likely be unsuccessful, so you will need to apply for a new B visa, and you can disclose your history in the application. If the visa is granted then you can be fairly confident in traveling to the US.

  • thank you for your reply. What do you think my chances would be to apply for a B2 visa now to revisit for a 2 week holiday seeing as it’s been 25 years?
    – Florencia
    Jan 25, 2020 at 15:01
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    @Florencia I really have no idea, I'm afraid. On the one hand, it was a long time ago and you can probably present a credible claim that you don't intend to violate the terms of your admission. On the other hand, living and working in the US after having been admitted as a tourist is seen as quite a serious violation, especially these days, and if you encounter an unfriendly visa officer or immigration officer they will not have to look very closely to find a reason to refuse you.
    – phoog
    Jan 25, 2020 at 15:40
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    @Florencia But was there something else going on? Were you really living and working in the US having been admitted in B status? I'm surprised that you managed to leave and reenter in the 80s in that case.
    – phoog
    Jan 25, 2020 at 15:50
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    @PatriciaShanahan yes, my wife has several old I-94 forms in our desk drawer that were not collected by airlines when she left the US on one occasion or another. However inefficient the processing of these forms may have been, they obviously managed to get some data about an overstay into a computer where it could be summoned in connection with Florencia's daughter. What I'm more surprised about, though, is why she wasn't caught by the "what's the purpose of your trip" question at some point. I also wonder whether her answers to such questions might have made her inadmissible.
    – phoog
    Jan 25, 2020 at 16:41
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    Could the OP apply for a B2 visitor visa, and get all this examined and resolved before attempting travel? Another option is to consult a US immigration attorney. Jan 25, 2020 at 17:02

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