Is Entering the US Illegally Better than Entering on a Visa Waiver?

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We hope the title caught your attention!  If you or anyone you know enters the United States on the ESTA Visa Waiver Program, it is important  to understand the hard consequences of overstaying a Waiver issued through ESTA. Countries who are eligible for an ESTA Visa Waiver to the United States include (but are not limited to): South Korea, United Kingdom, and France to name a few.

An ESTA visa waiver, while attractive, should be the last option for a visitor to the United States. From a legal perspective, the advantages are outweighed by the disadvantages. You may opt out of the visa waiver program and apply for a standard visa if you also find the below legal issues troubling:

  • You waive all rights to avail oneself of the Federal Immigration Courts (i.e. Defense in Deportation or Removal Proceedings)  if a planned or unplanned overstay occurs. The result: Immediate administrative removal from the United States. In comparison: a foreign national who enters the country illegally is given the privilege of the U.S. Federal courts to guard against removal.
  • Visa Waiver status does not provide options to extend your stay in the United States.  In Comparison: If you entered without inspection or documents, your “day in court” can ‘double serve’ as an extended status.
  • If you find a great job, spouse or all of the above, you may not apply for a change of status or adjust of status in the United States. [Note: There are limited exceptions with the guidance of experienced Immigration Legal counsel].

Since the main advantage of a Visa Waiver is the speed and ability to bypass the Visa process, plan well in advance of a trip to the United States. Apply for an actual non-immigrant visa as “status insurance” for you and your loved ones.  Visa Waivers are ideal in an emergency situation, but do not be so quick to give up your rights where you may one day wish you had only entered illegally to have more rights! [ Cynical but scarily true. :-/ ]

You may contact our lawyers for a free initial ‘in office or video/skype consultation by emailing your request to or by calling our attorney offices listed conveniently at Our lawyers serve clients all over the world from our law firm locations in Washington D.C., Rockville, Maryland and Fairfax, Virginia.

Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

Over 20 years of experience Representing Individuals, Families and Businesses in U.S. Immigration Legal Matters |

It is important to consult with an experienced U.S. Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA).  

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Vassell & LeeRC Law Group provides free initial screening consultations with our lawyers or you may request our standard consultation. Our contact information is conveniently available at

Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) | Vassell & LeeRC Law Group |

U.S. Immigration Lawyers Serving Families, Businesses & Individuals for Over 20 Years

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