A non-immigrant who enters the U.S. as a tourist under a B-2 visitor visa is usually granted a maximum of 6 months to stay in the country. A non-immigrant visa extension typically grants the applicant an additional 6 months in the country. However, this may vary according to each individual case.
When Should I Submit a Tourist Visa Extension?
A tourist visa extension application should be submitted at least 45 days prior to the visa’s expiration date. This will allow for processing time and will help avoid overstaying the visa.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a Tourist Visa Extension?
Visa extensions are not granted to every applicant. In order to be eligible for a tourist visa extension, the following requirements must be met:
- Admittance into the country with a B-2 visa was lawful and not fraudulent
- Current visa status is still valid
- No disqualifying crimes were committed during stay
- Application was submitted before stay expired
- Possession of valid passport during entire stay in the country
Applicants should be prepared to provide additional proof regarding any extra requirements that the immigration department may have. Additionally, it is worth noting that visa extensions for the B-2 Visitor and Tourist category can cost several hundreds of dollars in fees.
What If I Missed the Filing Deadline for a Tourist Visa Extension?
If a tourist visa extension application is filed after the deadline, or if the length of the stay has expired, an application may still be accepted. In this case, applicants should be prepared to prove:
- The delay in filing was due to extraordinary circumstances which were beyond their control (e.g., incapacity or prolonged illness).
- The length of the delay was reasonable.
- They have not acted in any way that violates non-immigrant status requirements.
- They are still currently a non-immigrant, and not filing for permanent residence.
- They are not currently involved in any ongoing formal removal or deportation hearings.
If a tourist visa extension application is denied altogether, the applicant may be able to appeal their case. However, this will involve more fees as well as a re-determination of eligibility status. If an appeal is unsuccessful, that person will be asked to leave the country immediately upon the expiration of their visa.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Yes. One alternative is to file for permanent resident status instead of an extension. However, be aware that filing for permanent residency will result in ineligibility for a visa extension.
Another alternative is to reapply for another visa after a waiting period, typically of one year. This may allow that individual to re-enter the U.S. in the future.
Common Concerns with Tourist Visa Extensions?
Tourist visas are probably the most highly regulated visas due to a tendency for aliens to overstay their tourist visa. When filing for a tourist visa extension, it is important to keep the following in mind:
- Entering the U.S. with a B-2 visa with the intent to get married in the U.S. could be considered as immigration marriage fraud.
- Filing for an extension immediately upon entry into the country may be perceived as a pre-planned act and could disqualify your application.
- As a tourist, that person is not allowed to work during their stay and during any extension period.
Basically, any acts that demonstrate intent to stay in the country longer than is allowed will create suspicion of a violation. This is an important to keep in mind, and to keep any actions while in the country within the requirements specified under the B-2 Visitor visa category.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Tourist Visa Extension?
If you will be applying for a tourist visa extension, you may wish to contact an immigration lawyer for advice. An attorney can assist you or your loved one in filing an application, ensuring all the necessary documents are submitted. This will help prevent any violations and avoid delays in the process.