we would need exact details. Did you overstay a student or J-1 or other type of status as the rules regarding unlawful presence are different for these categories and will affect whether you need a waiver to return. If you overstayed even one day, you need to go to your home country and apply for a new visa. If you accrued unlawful presence in excess of 6 months (depends on the status you were on), then your trip home will trigger a 3 or 10 year bar and you will also need a waiver to return and we can argue the extenuating circumstances you cite.
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The real question to be asked is did you work illegally?
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What visa did you enter on?
This response is general in nature and cannot be construed as legal advice, given that not enough facts are known. Any comments offered on Avvo are of a general nature only, and are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship. You are encouraged to seek independent and private counseling for a complete review of your case.
As an over stay from 2003 you appear to have accrued more than 10 years of unlawful presence. It is unfortunate that you have not addressed this sooner. However, based on your representatons you seem like a very smart guy and I would think there is more to your case then what you have disclosed here.
This forum is not the place to get individualized advice. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can review the specifc facts of your case, advise you of teh optiosn available, and the best way to proceed.
While this answer is provided by a Florida Bar Certified Expert in Immigration and Nationality Law, it is for general information purposes only and an attorney/client relationship is neither intended nor created. You should seek out qualified counsel to review your case and provide you with advice specific to your situation. Review Mr. Devore's Avvo Profile for more information about his expertise in immigration law and how to contact him to discuss your case.