How to Extend Your U.S. Visa While in the U.S.

Two Parts:Analyzing your SituationFiling your I-539

Extend your stay in the United States by filing a visa extension request with the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using Form I-539. What is required of you to complete this form will depend greatly on your class of admission (your specific nonimmigrant status). Fortunately the process is straightforward provided you allow yourself enough time to complete it.

Part 1
Analyzing your Situation

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    Check the expiration date on your Form I-94. As of a couple of years ago, nonimmigrant travelers to America no longer receive paper I-94’s when they arrive. Instead, an electronic copy is made and the relevant dates will have been stamped on your travel documents upon arrival.[1]
    • There should be three items stamped to your incoming travel documents: the date of your arrival, the class of your admission (the sort of visa you’ll receive), and the date you’re admitted until (the expiration date, essentially)
    • If you have misplaced these travel documents, you can find your I-94 with the relevant details online at the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
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    Check today’s date. USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) strongly recommends submitting your I-539 no less than 45 days before the date of expiration listed on your I-94. Your situation will need to be looked at by a USCIS agent if it has been less than 45 days; if the delay was for causes out of your control, your tardiness will be overlooked.[2]
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    Make sure you are eligible. There are a number of categories into which nonimmigrant visitors to the United States are divided. All of these will be allowed to submit an extension using I-539 save for a few. If you were admitted as one of the categories below, you will be unable to file an extension.
    • Admitted as part of a visa waiver exemption.
    • As a crew member, with a D nonimmigrant visa.
    • In transit through the U.S. either with (C nonimmigrant visa) or without a visa (TWOV).
    • As a fiance of a U.S. citizen or dependant of a fiance (K nonimmigrant visa).
    • As an informant (or accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S nonimmigrant visa).
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    Review your nonimmigrant category. Depending on the class of your admission as stated on your I-94 or the relevant travel documents, your submission process may differ. These categories are numerous, and vary greatly. Look at the I-539 instructions found at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-539instr.pdf for the full list of eligible nonimmigrant categories, and the differences in the submission process for each.
    • You are permitted to include your spouse and any unmarried children under 21 as applicants under the same I-539. Note, however, you will all be granted the same amount in time extended; they may not vary between family members.

Part 2
Filing your I-539

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    Gather the requested documentation. Depending on your class of admission (i.e., the sort of nonimmigrant you are classified as), the documentation you’ll need to submit will vary greatly. You’ll need to visit the I-539 instructions linked above to discover just what is asked of you document-wise depending on your class of admissions.[3]
    • For the most part, this will probably include evidence of certain relationships, whether personal or business-related.
    • Unless otherwise requested, you should send copies of documents requested. If you send the original, know that there is a chance it will not be returned unless you specifically request it.
    • Any document you submit in a foreign language must be accompanied by a translation in English. You must also include proof of your translator’s qualifications.
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    Have the application’s fee ready. Regardless of the class of your admission (save for one or two exceptions) or the documents involved with your I-539 submission, there is a $290 fee required to submit your I-539. The USCIS requests that this $290 is submitted by check or money order.
    • When writing your check or money order, you’ll need to write as payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Do not abbreviate it when writing your check.
    • Certain applicants will be required to make a biometrics service appointment (the USCIS will notify you if this is the case, as well as when and where to attend). For those required to do this, there is an $85 fee included. Submit this in the same way you would the $290 fee.
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    File your I-539. Depending on your location, where you file your I-539 will vary. Call 1-800-375-5283 or visit www.uscis.gov/I-539 to figure out where to file your I-539 form. Remember to include all of the documentation requested when filing your I-539.[4]
    • Some I-539 filings are eligible to file online. Check the website www.uscis.gov and look under “FORMS,” and again under “E-Filing and Online Service” to see if you are able to e-file your I-539.

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Categories: Official Travel Documentation