A Guide to Extending Your U.S Visa Whilst in The U.S

Are you currently in the US wondering how to extend your visa? Well, to help you understand what you need to do we’ve put together this handy guide to help you extend your stay in the United States. Essentially you will need to file an extension request with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using the form I-539. You’ll need to complete this form thoroughly but it will depend on your actual nonimmigrant status currently. With that being said, the actual process is straightforward, you just need to allow yourself enough time to file it. So let’s take a look at how…

Review Your Current Visa 

First of all, you’ll need to check the expiration on your form. The old I-94 paper form that nonimmigrant visitors used to have to complete upon arrival, no longer exists as electronic copies have now taken over. On arrival, all of the relevant information and dates will be stamped onto your documents. You need to ensure you have the following:

  • Three stamps on your incoming travel documents – date of arrival, the exact class of admission you’re on as well as your expiration date.

If you for any reason don’t have these documents, you can in fact obtain your I-94 online on the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

Make Sure You’re Planning Ahead 

It is highly recommended that you file your I-539 form no less than 45 days before the final date that is shown on your I-94 form. USCIS need an adequate amount of time to review your situation so they advise you get it in as early as possible to give them chance to look into your case, causing you no delays in your application.

Ensure Your Eligibility

Nonimmigrant travelers to the country are divided into a number of different categories. Each of which will be given the chance to submit an extension application. If however you were give a visa on the basis of one of the categories below, you will be unable to file for an extended stay. These are:

  • Granted permission under a visa waiver exemption.
  • As a spouse of a citizen (K nonimmigrant visa).
  • As an informant on crime or terrorism (S nonimmigrant visa).
  • Working as a crew member (D nonimmigrant visa).
  • Travelling through the U.S with or without a visa.

Find Out What Category You’re In 

As mentioned above, you may come under a certain category based on your I-94 class of admission or travel documents, meaning your particular application may differ. Each category can vary a lot so it’s best to look at the I-539 instructions for a full breakdown of the eligible categories for nonimmigrants. Here it will also tell you the submission process for whichever one you fall into.

Get Organized

Once you know what type of nonimmigrant you are defined as, it’s time to get the documentation together to submit your application. Using the instructions linked above, it will tell you in-depth exactly what you need document-wise depending on your admission class. Please note, a lot of the time this includes evidence of relationships (personal or business). In addition, It’s worth making a copy of your application for your records as it may not be sent back to you.

Remember You’ll Have to Pay 

For most I-539 submissions, there will be a charge of $290 that you will be required to pay in order to submit your I-539. Please note, for the majority you will be required to pay this fee, however, there are one or two exceptions if you’re application comes under a special class.

Filing Your I-539

Finally, simply file your application and you’re done. You can either call or visit the USCIS site to find out exactly where you file your I-539 form but make sure, whichever the way you do, you include all of the relevant documentation to support your case and application. From there, it is just a case of waiting to see if you’ve been granted an extension and so, we wish you the best of luck with your submission.

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