The Ultimate Guide to Extending Your U.S. Visa

The Ultimate Guide to Extending Your U.S. Visa

The US is a popular choice for tourists and visitors from all over the world. A B1/B2 visa allows you to enter the country and stay for up to six months a year. However, if you want to stay longer than that, you’ll need to apply for an extension before your Form I-94 expires.

You need to submit your extension application at least 45 days before the expiration date so you can have time to prepare any additional documents that may be requested. 

With the right information, you can complete this application process quickly and easily, thereby extending your I-94 while leaving enough time to enjoy your time in the US without stress!

What Is an I-94 Card?

Your Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Record, or simply I-94, is issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer when you arrive at the country’s port of entry, such as an airport or land border crossing station. Here is a sample I-94 form for your reference.

US visa extension form

An electronic I-94 is created when you enter using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). All nonimmigrant (temporary) visa holders have an I-94 card (formally, Arrival and Departure Record). The United States government uses 1-94 to track people entering and leaving the country.

You can file an extension application online, mail your extension application along with the required documents to the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) center. If you decide on a physical location, ensure it’s not one of USCIS’ express offices—as these only offer renewal for limited visa statuses and not for all applicants. 

Asking an immigration specialist can help you determine which is best for your situation. Do keep in mind that there are some restrictions on what state centers can handle if they’re not local to you — and regional offices don’t always cover every area that falls under their jurisdiction. You might also have additional travel requirements based on your immigration status. 

There are various ways of extending your stay while you are visiting family in the USA. Before exploring these options, you should determine the category of visa you’re on and whether or not your current nonimmigrant status allows an extension (if you’re unsure which visa classification applies to your travel, you can contact an immigration attorney). 

Your specific situation will determine how long an extension can be issued and where it can be obtained. Try to plan ahead so that any required paperwork is submitted early enough to avoid delays and to avoid any issues in the future.

Required Documents for U.S. Visa Extension 

To apply for an extension, you need to collect several documents. The exact requirements will vary for each person and unique situation. Generally, the following documents are required: 

  • A Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record; 
  • Evidence or reasons why you should be allowed to extend your stay;
  • Proof of financial resources and ability to pay for your trip home;
  • Original passport;
  • Copies of visa stamp pages from the passport.

* Please note that the above list of documents is not exhaustive and depends on case to case basis and visa type.

Fill Out Form I-539

To stay past your authorized period of admission, you must file an application with USCIS requesting permission to stay by filing Form I-539. This form needs to be filed with an extension fee of $370, there may be an additional biometrics fee of $85. Filing an extension application requires detailed information and should be filed as soon as possible. 

If you plan on staying past 90 days, it’s best not to wait until you have reached your date of expiration (on your Arrival/Departure record) before filing Form I-539. 

If you’re studying or working on a non-immigrant visa and plan to stay longer than 90 days, you’ll need to extend your stay. To do so, it’s best to go directly through USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) by paying a fee. You can then apply for an extension once you’ve paid.

90 days before your visa expires, you can submit Form I-539 (Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) as long as you have not used up all of your time on a B1/B2 visa extension or change of status. You will also need to prove your continuing eligibility for a stay beyond six months.

General Tips to Apply for Your U.S. Visa Extension

The following general tips and tricks can help you in the process of renewing your I-94:

  • You can extend your I-94 from anywhere inside the continental US by filing an application with the USCIS.
  • It’s important that you check your form carefully before submitting it. If there is a mistake or any of your information has changed since last time, make corrections and submit again. This could cause delays in processing or even rejection of your application. 
  • It will take several weeks to get approved, so don’t wait until it’s close to expiring. 
  • Apply 30 days before expiration if possible and 60 days before expiration if needed. 
  • Before applying, make sure you have evidence that you are eligible for an extension and enough money to support any accompanying dependents for the duration of the stay and proof that they are covered by health insurance.

Conclusion

As a nonimmigrant, you cannot apply for permanent residency or become a U.S. citizen while visiting the US on a business or tourist visa. You will have to leave and re-enter multiple times if you wish to do business in the US for a long time. 

You can, however, request an extension of stay by filing an I-539 form through USCIS before your authorized period of admission expires. An immigration attorney can also help guide you through the process of extending your visa successfully.

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