In the United States, there is sometimes a misguided narrative that illegal immigrants are simply crossing the country’s border and then trying to remain out of sight. They were never allowed to enter the U.S., and they did it by illegal means.
It’s not that this doesn’t happen, because it does. But it’s not nearly as common as a lot of people assume, and it’s not even the most common way that people illegally enter the U.S. Let’s look at how this actually happens.
Becoming out of status
What generally happens is that someone’s status changes so that they are no longer permitted to be in the United States. They are supposed to leave, but they opt to stay illegally.
For example, perhaps you applied for a job in the United States and were offered the position by an employer. That employer then sponsored you to get an employment visa, and you were allowed to come to the United States as long as you were working in that capacity.
After a few years, you decided to leave your job. You neglected to get a new job, and so you became out of status. This could also happen to a college student who had a student visa and remained within the United States after graduation.
Either way, what this means is that you have become out of status and you now face the risk of being deported. But you can see how this is vastly different than illegally entering the country. You had full permission to come to the United States, but your paperwork just no longer matches.
Why does this happen and what can you do?
In some cases, this happens because people honestly think that they are still legally in the country. They don’t even know that they’re out of status or that deportation is a risk. They may be as surprised as anyone else if they do get deported.
In other cases, The process just takes time or people get confused. Maybe you are trying to apply for another visa but you haven’t gotten it yet, for instance. If you’re worried about being deported, make sure that you are well aware of exactly what legal steps you can take.