By: Attorney Gail S. Seeram, [email protected]
In certain situations, when you travel to the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you may want to extend your stay. As a nonimmigrant, you are allowed to temporarily enter the United States for a specific purpose such as business, study, or pleasure.
When you enter the U.S. as a nonimmigrant (such as a tourist visa), a U.S. immigration inspector should examine your passport and visa and then give you a Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record). This record should tell you (in the lower right-hand corner) when you must leave the United States.
You can prove you did not violate U.S. laws by turning in your Form I-94 to the proper authorities when you leave the country. If you want to extend your stay in the United States, then you must ask for permission from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your authorized stay expires.
Proof that you are willing to obey U.S. immigration laws will be important if you want to travel to the United States as an immigrant or nonimmigrant in the future. If you break immigration laws, you may also become subject to removal (deportation).
Who is Eligible?
You may apply to extend your stay if you were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, your nonimmigrant visa status remains valid, and you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible. You must apply to extend your status if you wish to stay longer than the date indicated in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record). Please note, you must submit the application for an extension of stay BEFORE your current authorized stay expires. You must also keep your passport valid for your entire stay in the United States.
You may not apply to extend your stay if you were admitted to the United States in the following visa categories:
WT or WB – Visa Waiver Program (green Form I-94W)
D – As a crewman
C – As an alien in transit
TWOV – Transit Without Visa
K – As a fiancé of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé
S – As an informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime
When Should I Apply?
It is recommended that you apply to extend your stay at least 60 days before your authorised stay expires, but the USCIS Service Center must receive your application by the day your authorised stay expires.
What If My Authorised Stay Has Already Expired?
If you are late filing for an extension and your authorised stay has already expired, you must prove that:
· The delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control;
· The length of the delay was reasonable;
· You have not done anything else to violate your nonimmigrant status (such as work without USCIS approval);
· You are still a nonimmigrant (This means you are not trying to become a permanent resident of the United States. There are some exceptions.); and
· You are not in formal proceedings to remove (deport) you from the country.
How Do I Get Another Form I-94 “Arrival/Departure Document” If the Original Was Submitted With the Application to Extend My Stay?
If your application for an extension is approved, you will be issued a replacement I-94 with a new departure date. If your application is denied, your original I-94 will be returned with a request for your immediate departure.
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