Never overstay your visa after entering the U.S.

Kumar Balani

NEW YORK, NY — My mission in life as far back as I was in high school — at San Sebastian College, a Catholic institution in Manila run by the order of the Augustinian Recoletos — has been to help people improve their lives. This mission was firmed up in my senior year as I reluctantly, after being tenaciously persuaded by guidance counselor Fred Anthony Cabbab, ran for the presidency of the student council and was, surprisingly, elected.

The unexpected win was by a landslide, garnering 85 percent of the votes, even though I was neither Catholic nor Filipino, requirements I thought were essential to be accepted as a viable candidate. I’m not boasting about this life-changing event but mentioning it because, a lot of times, other people think more highly of you than you think about yourself.

As I acquired maturity as a leader, helped by excellent team members in the student council (some of whom I have reconnected with recently) I thought about how in particular I would help people, as I was approaching graduation and beginning to apply for admission into the University of the Philippines. I had made up my mind as early as my freshman year in high school that I would become a newspaperman.

Once I was in college, I decided that my precise mission in life was to help people improve their lives in whatever way they desired with the power of journalism. It is not up to me to find out how the various segments of the audience of an information medium want to be helped.

But it is up to me and other journalists to use our judgment to figure out what types of straight news items, analytical facts-based opinion pieces, and even insight gathered through experience would best help the people who read what we write and view the images and videos we present.

Accordingly, we — the editors of the Daily Tribune and I — have posted various columns that can help you, our readers, benefit from the information we have provided.

In addition, I consider it a duty to help you achieve peace of mind, to provide you valuable insight from knowledge and experience I’ve gathered on immigration matters over my several decades of living in the US. This is exactly what I am doing with this particular column.

The basic point I’m making? It’s shown above by this column’s title is: Never overstay your visa after entering the United States!

Bryan Baker indicated in a January 2014 report of the US Department of Homeland Security that there were some 360,000 “unauthorized immigrants” from the Philippines living in the United States as of 1 January 2014.

They “either entered the US without inspection or were admitted temporarily and remained past the date they were required to depart, or are residing in the United States while awaiting removal proceedings in immigration court.”

You may have a relative or friend in this situation. If so, pass on to him or her the link to this column. Some such people fear that if they stepped into a US Citizenship and Immigration Service office to apply for an extension of their visa stay, they might be deported! What should you do? It’s best to seek counsel from an immigration lawyer to give you clear alternatives. Then, decide with him or her on your best course of action.

Be warned that inaction or procrastination should never ever be your option. Your problem will not disappear by itself. Face it now or it will only get worse.

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