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Australian who overstayed visa by 90 minutes released from jail

Baxter Reid, the Australian jailed here for 16 days because he overstayed his visitors visa, was released Wednesday.

Reid, 26, was also ordered to leave the country within 120 days.

Reid's release is the latest chapter in a story that attracted headlines here and in Australia because of the odd circumstances that led to his arrest and detention – he technically overstayed his visa by only 90 minutes.

On Wednesday, his lawyer said Reid welcomed the "voluntary departure" granted by the local immigration court and was anxious to return to Australia.

"This is what he wanted," said Julie Kruger, his immigration lawyer. "I think he's likely to leave before the 120 days is up."

Reid, who has no criminal record, was accused of overstaying a visitors visa that allowed him to be in the United States for a total of five years but with a limit – often six months – on how long he can stay at any one time.

Australian overstays visa by 90 minutes, lands in federal jail in Batavia

Kruger and Reid's American girlfriend, Heather Kancso, say the couple were heading to Canada from New York City on April 23 in hopes of leaving the country before the six-month deadline when his visa expired.

Their plan was to then return from Canada and seek another six-month stay at the border.

But immigration officials say their plan, well-intentioned or not, was flawed. They say Reid should have formally applied for another six-month stay before April 23, and that his plan to leave and return violated the purpose of the periodic deadlines included in visitors visas.

On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they would to continue to monitor Reid's stay in the U.S.

Reid's case attracted media attention in the U.S. and Australia, in large part because of the 90 minutes that separated him from being a legal versus illegal visitor to the U.S.

On their way to Canada, Kancso says her car broke down, and it was close to 10 p.m. on the day of Reid's visa deadline before they finally reached the Peace Bridge.

Kancso said Canadian customs officials were friendly but kept them for hours before denying them entry. By the time the couple turned around and re-entered the U.S., Reid's visa deadline had expired 90 minutes earlier.

Reid was arrested and eventually jailed at the Federal Detention Center in Batavia.

Customs and Border Protection officials wouldn't comment on Reid's case but said the law requires that anyone who overstays their visa, no matter by how long or how short a period time, be arrested and detained.

Kruger, meanwhile, said Reid welcomed the immigration court's decision and noted the potential alternative – immediate deportation.

"He's grateful for the support he's received," she said of the people here and in Australia who voiced concern about his continued detention. "And I think he's anxious to get home."

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