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Non-Immigrant Status | LegalMatch Law Library

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How Can I Extend My Stay in the United States?

If you were lawfully admitted into the United States with a temporary visa, and you have not committed any crimes, you may be able to request permission to extend your stay. However, you must send your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service before your current temporary visa expires.

Who May Apply?

To apply to extend your stay in the United States:

  • You must have been lawfully admitted into the U.S. with a nonimmigrant visa;
  • Your nonimmigrant visa status must be valid (visa has not yet expired);
  • You must not have committed any crimes that would make you ineligible;
  • You must apply before your authorized stay expires according to your Arrival/Departure Forms (I-94); and
  • You must your passport must be valid for your entire stay.

Who May Not Apply?

If you were admitted into the United States in any of the following visa categories, you may not apply for an extension:

  • VWP: Visa Waiver Program;
  • D: Crewman;
  • C: Alien in transit or in transit without a visa;
  • K: Fiancé of a U.S. citizen or a dependent of a fiancé; and
  • S: Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime.

What is the Application Process?

The application process is different depending on the type of temporary visa received. The following nonimmigrant workers must have their employers read and file a CIS Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with any supporting documentation:

  • E: International Traders and Investors;
  • H: Temporary Workers;
  • L: Intracompany Transferees;
  • O: Aliens of Extraordinary Ability;
  • P: Entertainers and Athletes;
  • Q: Participants in International Exchange Programs;
  • R: Religious Workers; and
  • TN: Canadians and Mexicans under NAFTA.

Those in the following categories should read and complete Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) themselves and submit required documents:

  • A: Diplomatic and other government officials;
  • B: Temporary visitors for business or pleasure;
  • F: Academic students and their families;
  • G: Representatives to international organizations;
  • I: Representatives of foreign media;
  • J: Exchange visitors;
  • M: Vocational students; and
  • N: Parents and children of the people who have been granted special immigrant status because their parents were employed by an international organization in the United States.

The application and fee should be sent to the USCIS Service Center in the area where you are staying. If your nonimmigrant status is work-related, the application should be sent to the Service Center serving the area in which you work.

What if My Authorized Stay Has Already Expired?

If you do not file your extension on time, you must show that:

  • Your delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances not under your control;
  • The length of the delay was reasonable;
  • You have not violated your nonimmigrant status in any other way;
  • You are still a nonimmigrant; and
  • You are not in formal proceedings to be removed from the United States (a.k.a. deportation).

Do I Need a Lawyer to Extend My Nonimmigrant Status?

If you are interested in changing your temporary visa status, an experienced immigration attorney can advise you on the necessary forms and deadlines required. In addition, a skilled immigration attorney can assist in completing your application with the correct documentation and explain to you your options if you are denied a change.

Photo of page author John Kirby

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-08-2017 04:47 PM PST

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