US Visitor Visa Extension
Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 (link to I-94) must fill the I-539 form and apply to the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend the visa. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of visitor visa is made by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
US visitor visa can be issued if the purpose of travel is business (B-1) or tourism, pleasure, and medical treatment (B-2). They are issued together as B1 / B2 visa. They are usually issued for a period of six months but can be extended for maximum 6 months more. This extension is granted on the basis of USCIS approval. You should not file for an extension within 3 months of arrival otherwise USCIS may assume that the extension is preplanned.
In order to extend the I-94 you must file a request with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You have to fill the I-539 to extend/change the stay before the authorized stay expires. If you remain in US beyond the authorized stay then you may be deported or refused entry in US again. You or your spouse and unmarried children can file the extension together in one form if all of you are in the same status or are in derivative status. USCIS recommends that you file the extension at least 45 days before the authorized stay expires.
Prerequisites for US B1 B2 Visa Extension
Your Nonimmigrant status has to be valid to apply for an extension. In order to extend the stay there are certain prerequisite conditions:
- You are a bona fide non immigrant
- You were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa
- Your passport is valid and will remain valid during the extension
- You have financial resources to support the extension
- You have not violated the law and other immigration conditions to enter US
- You are not going to stay beyond the date of extension
- You have not committed any crime that makes you ineligible for a visa
Exceptions for Visitor Visa Extension
People belonging to the following category cannot apply for an extension:
- An alien in transit through the United States (C non-immigrant visa)
- An alien through the United States without a visa (TWOV)
- Fiancé of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé (K-1 and K-2 non-immigrant visa)
- Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S non-immigrant visa)
- Crew member (D non-immigrant visa)
Documents Required for US Visitor Visa Extension
- Completed I-539 Form (PDF) Or File Online (I-539 Online). If you decide to e-file, follow these tips and information on how to submit supporting documents. e-File - Supporting Document instructions. While filling out the form use black ink and write in a neat manner. Give true and accurate information in the form. If extra space is required to give the information continue on a blank sheet. On the blank sheet provide the item number and sign the sheet with a date
- Copy of the form I-94
- A written letter explaining the reason for extension, how the extension might affect the residency or employment in home country, and the arrangements to leave US (return tickets) after the temporary stay is over. See sample cover letter for us visa extension
- Proof of financial support during this extended stay.
- Visitor visa (B1-B2) extension fee. The fee is $290 now. If the application includes your children and spouse then no separate fee is needed for them. They are included in the same fee.
After Filing the US Visa Extension
After you file the extension you can stay for 240 days after the expiration of I-94 or till the approval or denial of extension, whichever comes first. Once you file the B1 B2 visa extension application, USCIS will send you a receipt with a number (13-digit).This is your case number. The approximate processing time will be indicated on the receipt. It can take a few weeks to process your case. You can check your visa extension case status online using case/receipt number or call National Customer Service Center 1-800-375-5283
Approval of US Visa Extension
If the application for extension is approved then you will be issued a new I-94 with a new expiration date. Make a copy of this approval letter and I-94 for your records. At the time of departure both the new and the old I-94 has to be submitted. See a sample visa extension approval notice (I-539)
Denial of Visitors Visa Extension and Overstaying
If the US visa extension is denied, you will be asked to leave the country immediately. You will also receive a letter stating the reason of denial.
Overstaying on the US visa:
The USCIS generally allows you 30 days to leave the country effective from the date on the denial letter. If you overstay then your visa may become void, and you might be barred from the country in the future. In worst cases you might be forcibly deported from the country. You might encounter problems while reapplying for a US visa because the computer records at the Consulate will indicate that you overstayed your visit. Keep the rejection letter and record of your departure date (boarding pass) for the next time you apply for a US visa. (Source: US Customs official website)
Leaving the country before the decision on US Visitors Visa extension: If you leave US before a decision is made on your application for extension please keep a copy of your application and the receipt to show the immigration authority when you enter US again. Otherwise you may be barred from entering US for overstaying during the last visit.