Are you visiting America on a three-month visa but realize that you might need to extend your stay beyond that time? Don’t worry, there is a process with which you can extend your visitor’s visa and stay on in the United States. However, whether the visitor’s visa will be extended or not largely depends on the reason that you provide the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) for extending your stay, while also demonstrating your intention to return to your home country and having the means to do so. Convincing the USCIS can be the tricky part.
Who can Apply to Extend Their Stay?
There are certain requirements that a traveller needs to fulfil to apply for a visitor’s visa extension in the US, such as:
- The applicant should have lawfully entered the US with a non-immigrant visa.
- They should not have violated the reasons for which they obtained the visitor’s visa in the first place.
- The applicant must not have participated in any criminal activity during their stay in the country.
- The visitor’s visa should be valid at the time of extension.
- The passport should be valid and should remain valid during the duration of extended stay.
Who Cannot Apply to Extend their Stay
There are a few categories of admittance into the US that not eligible for period extension. These are:
- Visa Waiver Program
- C non-immigrant visa
- Crew member with D non-immigrant visa
- Fiancé of a US citizen or dependent of a fiancé visiting the US with a K non-immigrant visa.
- Informant on terrorism or organized crime and their family members visiting US on an S non-immigrant visa.
- Traveling to the US without a visa (TWOV)
Process for Extending Visitor’s Visa
According to the USCIS, the applicant wanting to extend their stay must file a request on Form I-539. After which, they should also submit an application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status before their authorized stay expires, which is when the I-94 expires. In this case, the date mentioned on the visa stamp is of no use. To know the date of the expiration of the authorised stay, check the date in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94 and Arrival-Departure Record.
It is recommended to apply for the extension of stay well in advance of the expiration date, to avoid any kind of delay that could lead to you being forced to leave the country, even if you do not want to. The US authorities ask visitors to apply for extension of stay within 3 months of their arrival in the US and at least 45 days prior to visa expiration.
In case you application gets denied, you’ll need to immediately leave the country. Remember that if you stay on in the US beyond the authorized period, you may not only be deported or removed from the country, but might even be barred from returning to America in future.
Please note that this article is written in October 2017, please refer to USCIS official immigration website for any changes have been made there after.
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