0

If one over stays his visa, and wants to go back, how can it be done?

{For example, from California to Israel}

I heard rumors that if one "gets caught" they might be held in detention centers for years, and even if they can afford a flight back, how can they fly internationionally without any valid documentation?

10
  • 2
    It depends on the country. Some countries don't check departing passengers, others will say "good riddance, don't come back," and others might arrest the would-be traveler. I'm afraid that without specifying a jurisdiction this question is too broad. As to not having documentation, that is typically fixed by a visit to the consulate of the country of citizenship.
    – phoog
    May 28 at 2:19
  • 2
    How does an Israeli citizen get to the US without a passport?
    – phoog
    May 28 at 5:05
  • 1
    @RockApe in US law overstaying one's visa is just one of several ways in which one can become an illegal immigrant. Is that the difference you had in mind? Technically, if one overstays a nonimmigrant visa, one falls into the definition of "immigrant" given at 8 USC 1101(a)(15), so one does become an illegal immigrant at that point.
    – phoog
    May 28 at 12:27
  • 1
    Then they take their expired passport to the Israeli consulate and use it to get a new passport.
    – phoog
    May 28 at 16:31
  • 1
    To pre-empt an increasingly elaborate series of what ifs, the answer is always going to involve going to the Israeli consulate for help.
    – Studoku
    May 29 at 7:54
4

The US doesn't do exit immigration checks, so if your hypothetical Israeli overstayer can board a flight out of the US, they'll most likely be allowed to go without detention or other punishment. The US sees no value in spending government money to detain someone who is ready to leave of their own accord.

I'm not sure why such a person should have "no valid documentation". Maybe you're confused by the common term "undocumented" for people without legal immigration status, but it usually doesn't literally mean they have no documentation at all. Most such people would still have their passport and other identification from their home country, and the passport is enough to board a flight back home.

You say your hypothetical Israeli overstayer had a visa; so they must have had an Israeli passport when they entered the US. Under normal circumstances, they've still got it. If it expired, they could have renewed it at an Israeli consulate within the US; the consulate will issue passports to all Israeli citizens without regard to their immigration status in the US. Even if somehow they lost their Israeli passport and all other identity documents, the consulate would have the ability to verify their identity from Israeli government records (e.g. the photo and biometrics from their previous passport, which would still be in the Israeli government's database), and process their application for a replacement passport.

8
  • Airlines do check passports of people getting on international flights. They do not want to fly people to places they can't get into. The US government does not check but you still can't get on a plane leaving the country. May 28 at 5:44
  • 2
    @GeorgeWhite: Sure, but our hypothetical Israeli should have no trouble boarding a flight to Israel, or to any third country where they have a visa or visa-free entry. May 28 at 6:05
  • Yeah but if they came here 30 years ago and their passport expired, then what should they do? May 28 at 16:23
  • 1
    @LawmpLaweetir: They would just get a new passport or travel document from the consulate of their country of nationality.
    – user102008
    May 28 at 16:31
  • @LawmpLaweetir this answer addresses that contingency in its last paragraph. If it's not possible to prove their Israeli nationality to Israel's satisfaction, however, then they would have a problem, because if the US ever were to detain them, there would be no country to deport them to, and they could potentially be held indefinitely.
    – phoog
    May 28 at 16:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.