Understanding the most common immigration violations and their causes can help you avoid mistakes in your own journey. If you have questions about the U.S. immigration process or are facing an alleged immigration violation, call the American Immigration Law Group today at 314-416-8000.

What Are the Most Common Immigration Violations? 

U.S. immigration policies are frequently violated by:

Improper Entry

Illegal border crossings have reached a sustained high in recent years, particularly at the U.S.-Mexico border. It is unlawful to enter the U.S. without going through USCIS, no matter how you enter, under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a). Improper entry can be committed by:

  • Entering or trying to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers.
  • Eluding examination or inspection by immigration officers.
  • Attempting to enter or obtaining entry by a false representation or the willful concealment of a material fact.

Illegal Reentry

Similarly, it is a felony for anyone previously denied permission to be in the country. Anyone removed from the U.S. cannot attempt to reenter without approval.

Visa Overstay

Every visa comes with specific terms telling the holder how long they can remain in the United States. Temporary visas may only last a few months but can be renewed. Other visas remain valid for a few years. Overstaying your visa, or remaining in the U.S. after your visa has expired, is a common violation with serious consequences.

Transporting or Harboring Undocumented Citizens

Bringing someone into the U.S. illegally or helping someone remain in the country when they’re unauthorized is an immigration violation.

Unauthorized Employment

It is unlawful to work in the U.S. without proper authorization. The terms of an employment visa can be strict. You could unknowingly violate the terms and wind up in trouble. Even unpaid volunteer work can equal unauthorized employment for people who are limited by their status.

Documentation Fraud

Lying or omitting information from your immigration documentation is a serious offense. Many cases of fraud stem from errors when filling out paperwork, but USCIS takes all violations seriously. Violations can result from:

  • Marriage fraud
  • Social security fraud
  • Fraudulent asylum or refugee status claims
  • Fraudulent citizenship claims

What Happens after an Immigration Violation?

All immigration violations are serious. The consequences can vary depending on the unique circumstances of each case. After ICE receives a tip about a violation, agents will investigate and can detain the suspect. 

Removal Proceedings

Authorities may begin removal proceedings. Individuals will have the opportunity to appear before an immigration judge and present their case, which is best done with the help of an immigration attorney. Your lawyer can advocate for you and help you avoid the harshest consequences of a violation.

For example, your attorney could argue for your removal to be cancelled. They can show that you qualify for asylum or another protected status.

Possible Penalties of Conviction

Many immigration violations can result in felony criminal charges and severe penalties:

  • Improper entry: A fine and imprisonment for up to six months for a first offense and up to two years for a subsequent violation.
  • Illegal reentry: A fine and up to two years in prison. Penalties can be elevated if the individual has been removed previously or committed certain crimes such as a violent felony.
  • Transporting, smuggling, or harboring undocumented individuals: A year or more of prison time and a fine. Higher penalties can be imposed if the offense was performed for private financial gain. If someone was seriously injured killed in an incident related to smuggling an undocumented individual, the maximum penalty may be life in prison or capital punishment. Additionally, any vehicle that was used in the commission of the offense can be seized.
  • Unauthorized employment: ineligibility to extend or change visa status or a revoked visa. You could also be ineligible for a green card.
  • Visa fraud and false statements: criminal penalty of a fine and a term of imprisonment ranging from 10 to 25 years.

An immigration violation can significantly impact an individual’s ability to obtain lawful immigration status in the future. Even if you aren’t removed from the U.S., you could be barred from extending your stay or not be allowed to adjust your status. Certain violations can result in permanent inadmissibility.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Fight an Alleged Immigration Violation?

If you’re facing an immigration violation, seek legal help before it’s too late. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can significantly increase the chances of reaching a favorable outcome in your case. An immigration attorney knows the system and understands the gravity of your situation, and they’ll explain your options and represent your best interests throughout the process.

Call American Immigration Law Group Today

Facing an immigration violation can be frightening, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system. These cases can be complex, and you may not know where to turn. However, you don’t have to go through the process alone.

American Immigration Law Group has years of experience representing those facing immigration violations. We’ve helped many families secure positive outcomes and protect their American dream, and we’re here for you too. We’ll listen to your story, clearly explain your options, and advocate for your best interests at each step of the way.

Contact us or call 314-416-8000 today to schedule an initial consultation.