Can you extend your stay if you are a non-immigrant? Absolutely! And we’re here to show you the right way to do it.
If you’re a non-immigrant who needs to extend your stay in the US, in this article, we will discuss if you are qualified and, if you are, what you should do to get your stay extended.
Extending your stay
Many people come to the United States as non-immigrants yearly. Some for vacation, business, medical treatment, and more.
If you want to extend your stay in the US, you should first file Form I-539, or Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, with USCIS before your authorized stay ends. Ideally, two (2) weeks before your stay ends.
If you failed to file and you overstayed, you may be deported to your home country, or USCIS may bar you from returning to the US.
Being barred or deported is not something that you want.
Who CAN extend their visa?
You can apply for your visa extension if:
- You have a valid, legitimate reason to request a visa extension under the visa category;
- You are lawfully admitted into the United States with a non-immigrant visa;
- Your non-immigrant US visa status will remain valid for your extension;
- You have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible for a visa;
- You have not violated the conditions of your admission to the USA;
- Your passport is valid and will remain valid for your stay;
- You have definite plans to leave the US at the end of the proposed visa extension period; and
- You have proper evidence that you have the financial capability to sustain yourself during your stay.
Who CAN NOT extend their visa?
Unfortunately, not everyone is allowed to stay in the United States beyond their initial visa term. If you entered the United States under one of the following categories, you could not extend your stay:
- You are a Crew member or a D nonimmigrant visa holder;
- You are in transit through the United States or a C nonimmigrant visa holder;
- You’re in transit through the United States WITHOUT a visa;
- You’re in the United States through the Visa Waiver Program;
- You’re a Fiancé of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé or K nonimmigrant visa holder;
If you’re a non-immigrant who plans to apply, then continue watching this video to learn more helpful tips on how to get started.
As mentioned before, it is recommended that you apply for your extension AT LEAST 14 days before your authorized stay expires.
What to do if you qualify for a visa extension?
If you qualify, here are the things you need to do.
You will need to file I-539 Form. You can do this either on paper or online.
However, not all nonimmigrants can file Form I-539 online at this time. You can check if you are eligible on the USCIS website (it changes). If you are, you can create a USCIS online account to file online and:
- Submit evidence and pay fees electronically;
- Receive status updates about your case and see your complete case history;
- Communicate with them securely and directly; and
- Respond to requests for evidence.
If you are filing by paper, you must:
- Carefully read the instructions for Form I-539,
- Complete and sign your Form I-539;
- Pay the filing fee and biometric services fee, if applicable; and
- Provide all necessary evidence and supporting documentation.
You will need to have a good reason for why you need more time in the U.S., a reason that USCIS would accept. Also, you need proof of financial support for your extended stay.
Submitting a copy of your return tickets is a really good idea. There are also specific fees that you need to pay.
For the visitor visa (B1-B2), the extension fee is $370. If you are applying with your spouse and children, the cost includes them, too. There may also be a biometric fee of $85, which can vary based on your visa type.
You also need to submit a copy of Form I-94 or the arrival/departure forms of each applicant. Take note! Do not send the original I-94.
What should you do after you have filed for the extension?
Once you have filed your visa extension, USCIS will send you a receipt with a 13-digit receipt number. Take note of this since this will be your case number. It will also indicate the approximate processing time on the receipt.
You will also be given a biometrics appointment at your closest ASC for fingerprinting. This is applicable for the primary applicant and all co-dependents regardless of age, including minors.
As mentioned earlier, there’s an $85 biometrics fee. This applies to all applicants, including minors. If you had filed for an extension of your stay before your I-94 expired and your application is still under review, you may be allowed to stay in the US for 240 days after the expiration date on your I-94.
However, if you want to check the status of your application, you can check your visa extension case status online using the case/receipt number provided by USCIS. Or call National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283
What to do after the visa extension is approved or denied?
After the application, you will have to wait. If your visa extension is approved, you are issued a replacement I-94 with a new departure date. Make a copy of this, including the approval letter, and keep it in your record for future use. You will need these when you enter the United States again.
You can stay in the US until your new I-94 date. And when you leave the US, you have to submit both your old and new I-94 to the airline staff at the check-in counter.
If your visa extension is denied, you will receive a letter that will tell you why your application was rejected. You will then promptly have to leave the U.S.
What if you overstayed?
If you leave the U.S. and want to return you will need a good reason for why you overstayed. The overstay may void your visa and if you had multiple entries, you may have to reapply for a new visa.
You may be denied entry or denied a visa in the future. Moreover, if you don’t leave the U.S., ICE may put you into removal proceedings.
Since we don’t know how long the approval takes, it is best to keep your travel plan ready based on the original I-94 dates. If you get the approval, good for you! If not, it is best to leave the country. This way, you will have no problems if you enter the US in the future.
Here’s a Tip for you: You should always keep copies and proof of all paperwork and communication you did with USCIS. This will be useful for your future visa needs in case you need to go back to the US.
Discuss your Immigration Journey
You can call us today if you need help with the extension of your visa. Feel free to contact us if you want to discuss your case or need help with your citizenship application. Whether it is about getting a green card or applying for naturalization, or a change of status, we are here to help with your immigration journey.
Remember, every case is different, and we won’t take your money if we can’t help you.