Extending Your Stay in the United States

Purpose of Extension of Stay

If you want to extend your stay in the United States longer than the date indicated on the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Card, you must file an I-539 Application with the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your authorized stay expires.

Generally, you may apply to extend your stay if you lawfully traveled to the United States on a temporary visa and were lawfully admitted, your temporary visa status remains valid, and you have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible to extend your 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 to you with a request for your immediate departure from the United States.

Not all temporary visa holders are eligible to extend their stays. You may not extend your stay in the United States if you are a:

  • Visa Waiver Program entrant;
  • C-1, C-2, or C-3 visa holder;
  • D-1 or D-2 visa holder;
  • K-1 or K-2 visa holder; or
  • A person who was admitted as D/S, unless you are an F-1 Academic Student not completing a full course of study.

Applying for an Extension of Stay

You must submit your application for an extension of stay before your authorized stay expires. It is best to file your application with USCIS at least 45 to 60 days before your authorized stay expires.

If you fall within any of the following categories of nonimmigrants, you must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the place you are staying:

  • A – Diplomatic and other government officials, and their families and employees
  • B – Temporary visitors for business or pleasure
  • F – Academic students and their families
  • G – Representatives to international organizations and their families and employees
  • I – Representatives of foreign media and their families
  • J – Exchange visitors and their families
  • M – Vocational Students and their families
  • N – Parents and children of the people who have been granted special immigrant status because their parents were employed by an international organization in the United States

If you fall within any of the following categories of nonimmigrants, your employer must file, Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the place you are working:

  • E – Treaty traders and investors and Australian professionals
  • H – Temporary workers
  • L – Intra-company transferees
  • O – Persons with extraordinary ability
  • P – Entertainers and athletes
  • Q – Cultural Exchange Visitors
  • R – Religious Workers
  • TN – Canadian and Mexican Professionals Under NAFTA

Spouses and Children

If you file Form I-539 to extend your stay, you should include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your application. You may include your spouse and children on your application if they are in the same nonimmigrant category as you or if they were given derivative nonimmigrant status based on your status.

If your employer files Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker for you, then your spouse and child should file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Both applications for extension of stay – your Form I-129 and the Form I-539 for your spouse and children – should be filed at the same time.

Late Filing

If you are applying for an extension of stay but your authorized stay has already expired, you must prove:

  • Your delay in filing was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control;
  • The length of the delay was reasonable;
  • You have not done anything else to violate your status (such as working without authorization);
  • You intend to remain in the United States temporarily (There are some exceptions to this rule.); and
  • You are not in removal proceedings.

Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch is highly experienced with stay extension cases