Immigration: How to Extend Your Visitor’s Visa

When a visitor to the United States wants to extend their visitor’s visa a request must be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form, I-539, Application to Extend/ Change Nonimmigrant Status should be filed at least 45 days prior to the expiration of your visa.If you file an I-539 within 90 days of your arrival in the United States, the USCIS may feel you were not truthful about your length of stay when you first applied for your visa. If your visa expired before filing an extension,it probably will not be granted.

If you stay in the U.S. after your visa expires, you may be banned from a return visit or you may be deported. There is a date on the Form I-94 your Arrival-Departure Record that will tell when your visa expires. You may also check your passport for this date. Under the “120 day tolling period”, you will be legal as you wait for an answer from the USCIS.

How Do You Qualify?

If the following criteria are met, you can apply to extend your visa.

• If you entered the United States legally with a nonimmigrant visa
• If you have not committed a crime that disqualifies you for a visa
• If you have not violated the conditions of the U.S. admission
• Your nonimmigrant visa status is still valid
• If your visa is not expired and will not expire through your extended stay request

If you were allowed in the United States under the following guidelines, you would not be able to extend your visitor’s visa.

  • Visa Waiver Program, where you entered the United States with the intention of staying 90 days or less for pleasure or business.
  • Crew member for a fishing vessel or may include a pilot, stewards or employees who are required to operate normally. (D nonimmigrant visa)
  • Someone who is travelling through the United States to get to another country (C nonimmigrant visa)
  • A transit alien admitted under promises with a transference line, which warrants his direct and uninterrupted passage to a foreign destination. (TWOV)
  • The Fiancé or the dependents of a fiancé of a U.S. citizen (K nonimmigrant visa)
  • Informant on organized crime or terrorism and their family (S nonimmigrant visa)
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