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Can I extend my nonimmigrant visa?

When a person comes to the U.S. to conduct business, visit family, pursue educational opportunities or simply visit the nation's many historical landmarks through the mechanism of a nonimmigrant visa, it's not uncommon for them to want to extend their stay.

The good news is that while it's certainly possible for people in this situation to do this, the perhaps not so good news is that doing so will require an investment of time, money and energy, as well as a surfeit of patience.

Are you eligible? 

It's important to understand that a party is only able to extend their stay on a nonimmigrant visa if the following conditions are met:

  • Their original admittance to the U.S. using their nonimmigrant visa was valid
  • They have not violated any conditions of their admission or committed any criminal activities that otherwise would render them ineligible for a nonimmigrant visa
  • Their passport is valid and will remain so for the duration of their stay in the U.S.

Are there any categories that prohibit a person from extending their stay?   

Those who secured their admittance to the U.S. as part of the visa waiver program (VWP), as a crew member (D nonimmigrant), in transit through the U.S. (C nonimmigrant), in transit through the U.S. without a visa (TWOV), as a finance of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé (K nonimmigrant) or as an informant (S nonimmigrant) cannot extend their stay.

What do those looking to extend their stay need to do?

Those looking to extend their stay will need to file the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, pay the applicable filing fee ($370), submit the requested evidence and append their signature.

Thereafter, they will receive a receipt with a tracking number that allows them to monitor the status of their application online and its estimated processing time.

When should a person file the Form I-539?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recommends that the Form I-539 should be filed a minimum of 45 days before the authorized stay comes to a close.

What happens if a person overstays their nonimmigrant visa?

A person who overstays their nonimmigrant visa risks not just deportation, but a potential ban on entrance to the U.S.

If you have questions about this issue or securing a nonimmigrant visa in general, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.

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