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The difference between unlawful presence and improper entry

In the United States, in the eyes of immigration officials, while illegal immigration is unlawful, an immigrant's unlawful presence is not. There is a clear delineation between the two categories and depending on which one you fall into, potential benefits and consequences associated with each.

As for improper entry, it perhaps the most common type of immigration crime. It is also considered to be a misdemeanor under United States law.

There are one of three conditions that must be met in order to charge someone with this crime. An individual who tries to enter the country at a place or time other than one previously designated by an immigration official is said to have violated federal law. Similarly, any individual who somehow is successful in avoiding inspection or questioning by immigration might also be seen as having violated this law.

In another instance, any person who either makes an attempt to physically enter the country or perhaps be smuggled into it may also be deemed to have violated this law. Finally, any individual who voluntarily falsifies, conceals or otherwise misrepresents facts used to make immigration decisions might be held on improper entry charges as well.

Those who violate improper entry laws can face as much as six months in jail and up to $250 in fines per attempted entry.

When it comes to the concept of unlawful presence, an individual does not have to necessarily enter the country improperly in order to be here unlawfully. Instead, an individual may have entered the country legally, yet overstayed the expiration date on his or her visa.

While an individual's unlawful presence is not considered a criminal offense in this country, it is a violation of the terms you agreed to when you applied and received your visa. You may be required to pay civil penalties or fines for having overstayed it.

You also might be subject to detention and deportation from the country as well. If you overstay your visa, you might also face difficulties in renewing your visa or getting a new one issued to you in the future.

If you have either illegally entered the country or have overstayed your visa and you're facing incarceration, deportation or substantial fines, then a Norcross, Georgia, immigration attorney might be able to help.

Source: Findlaw, "Is illegal immigration a crime? Improper entry v. unlawful presence," accessed July 21, 2017

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