How to extend your US Visa

There are a number of immigrants who come to the United States as non immigrants and after some time decide to change their visa status. It is common knowledge that a non immigrant one can only be on US soil until the date of the expiry of the visa after which they have to leave the country or seek an extension. Fortunately non immigrants can extend their visas upon arrival in the United States. This has to be a timely process therefore it’s advisable to apply for extension in good time.

The Form I-94 that is issued at the point of entry and also has the date of departure is the document that has information on the actual visa details. If one desires to extend their visa for a longer time than previously planned, one is required to have the date on the I-94 form changed to the new desired date.

In order to start the process a request has to be made on the Form I-539 which is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The form allows for the extension and changing of the non immigrant status. In order to be allowed to extend their stay one needs to have applied for the extension at least 45 days before the expiry of the non immigrant visa departure date. In order for one to be allowed to extend their stay the following needs to be clear or in place;
• The status of the visa has to be valid
• The person has to have been admitted into the United States with a lawful and valid non immigrant visa.
• The person has to have not committed any felon that would make them not eligible to get a visa.
• The passport should be valid during the duration of the stay
• One should not have violated the conditions that guaranteed admission for the current visa.

In the event that one has been able to file for extension but the time of stay has gone beyond the legally allowed limit one should be able to demonstrate;
• That the delay is of a reasonable length.
• That the delay was caused by circumstances beyond one’s control.
• That there was no violation of one’s status like working without a work permit authorization that has been granted by the USCIS.
• That you are a legal or an authentic non immigrant, and are not trying to become a permanent residence.
• You are not in any proceedings for formal removal or deportation from the United States.

One is not ineligible for stay in the United States if they were admitted into the following non immigrant categories in the Form I-94 or I-94W
• K1 or K2. Where one is a dependent or fiancée or a dependent of the fiancée.
• D. Member of an aircraft or a vessel as a crewman or woman.
• C. An alien in transit through the United States.
• Your are in the Visa Waiver Program
• S. Are an informant or witness or is accompanying a member of the family on organized crime or terror related crimes, beyond a period of three years.
• Transit without Visa
• Q2. This is the Irish Peace process Cultural Training Program Visitor who has exceeded a total of three years beyond the initially admitted period after the 10th December 2004.

In order to be eligible for extension the following documents are required based on the category;
The documents one requires when one wants to get an employment based visa extension. A petition must be filled by the employer before the expiry of Form I-94;
• R-1 Religious Workers
• E-1 or E-2 Treaty traders and investors
• H-1B, H-2A or H-3. Temporary Workers
• L1-A or L1-B Intra company Transferee
• P-1, P-2 or P-3. Athletes and Entertainers
• O-1 or O-2. Aliens with Extra ordinary Abilities
• Q-1. International Cultural Exchange Visitors

The extension of status can also be extended to a spouse or an unmarried child who is less than 21 years. They will need to file Form I-539 to be able to extend their status; the form also incorporates all dependents. The Form I-129 and the I-539 should be filed together in order for adjudication to be done together.
Other categories that are covered by the Form I-539 and can be used to extend or change the status of a non immigrant are as follows;
• A3. The Personal Employees, Servants, Attendants of diplomatic and other government officials and the immediate family members.
• B1. Visitors for Business
• B2. Visitors for Pleasure
• E. Dependents of Treaty traders and Investors
• G5. Attendants, Servants, Personal Employees or Foreign Government Officials and their immediate families
• H4. Dependents of Temporary Workers
• K3 and K4. The spouse of an American Citizen and a minor or minors intending to join
• L-2. Dependents of Intracompany Transferee
• Vocational Students and Dependents
• N-Parents and Children of certain persons that have been granted the status of Special Immigrant.
• NATO-7. Attendants, Servants and Personal Employees of NATO representatives, officials, Employees and the Immediate Family Members
• O-3. Dependents of Aliens with Extraordinary Ability
• P-4. Dependents of Athletes or Entertainers
• R-2. Dependents of Religious Worker
• All the V categories, The certain second Preference Beneficiaries
• TD. Dependents of TN Visa Holders.

All the members of a family i.e. the husband, wife and children who are not married and are less than 21 years old who can be classified as non immigrants can be included in one Form I-539. An example is that the whole family can apply for a B2 Visa together.
The documents required to enable start of processing for the Visa are;
• Application fee. The fee is paid once with no extra charge to any additional applicants. All the children and the spouses are included in the same form.
• Reference from the Form I-539 which has the instructions of the specific requirements for each application category.
• Photocopy of the original I-94 form, the original form is used to fill the Form G-884 which is not available online and is sent upon request via mail.
• Copy of all of the pages of your passport including the blank pages, that is valid for the entire time one would be staying in the United States

The processing is tracked online through a receipt number. The receipt number is the receipt for the application that will be sent to you via mail.

If USCIS receives your application before the expiry of your visa, and you have not been found to have violated any terms of the visa. You may continue the approved activities under your current visa and can even continue working for a period of up to 240 days or until a decision is made on the status of your extension request or till the reason for extension is accomplished.
If your extension is denied you will be given a grace period of up to 30 days to depart voluntarily from the United States. The non immigrant visa becomes void during the period one is authorized to stay in the United States.
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Janet Rangi

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