You are in: Home > Immigration Law

Non-immigrants can extend the stay in the US

16th December 2011
By Jessica Potter in Immigration Law
RSS Legal RSS    Views: N/A

People come to the US for a number of reasons. US is the home to great number of immigrants who enter the US to work and settle down there. Once they get a green card and begin a comfortable life there, they move on to become US citizens. This is the highest point in the life of an immigrant as it bestows them with a variety of benefits.

There is another category of people who enter the US – on a temporary basis. These people come to the US for pleasure trips, sightseeing, visiting relatives, to attend conferences, undertake medical treatment, as exchange students and so on. For them to enter the US, they need to obtain an appropriate non-immigrant visa that suits their category. A person can enter the US only with a visa (there are certain exceptions to this though) and getting a visa is the first step in going to the US.

Non-immigrant Visa

This visa is issued only to those foreign nationals who intend to stay in the US for a temporary period of time. The time period of the temporary stay varies and is determined by the visa category of the applicant. When a non-immigrant enters the US at any Port of Entry, he/she will be issued a Form I-94 which is the Arrival-Departure record. I-94W is for non-immigrants with a visa waiver. This is the document that carries the time period of stay in the US and not the US visa. Applicants should understand that their visa carries information only about the number of times they can seek admission to the US and time for applying.

As an applicant, you may plan to stay in the US only for a particular period of time ( that is allowed on your visa),but, there are circumstances wherein you will be required to extend the stay. In such cases, you need to apply separately to the USCIS requesting to extend your visa.

Extend the stay, if you satisfy the following criteria

Not everybody who is on non-immigrant visas can extend the stay. Extension is possible if the applicant
• Has entered the US in a lawful manner with a non-immigrant visa
• Has a valid non-immigrant visa and a passport
• Has not been convicted of any crime that would disqualify his/her eligibility to apply for a visa
• Has in no way violated any conditions of their admission

People who are on a Visa Waiver Program, K, C, D type visa and those who are in transit through the US cannot extend the stay.

How to extend your stay?

The application form to extend the stay in the US is of two types based on the category of the visa. Employees who are under the non-immigrant workers category, then their respective employers should file in Form I-129. The list of workers can be accessed from the government website. Family members (spouse, unmarried children below 21 yrs of age) of these workers can also extend the stay by filing in Form I- 539. It is advisable to file these both together to have them adjudicated simultaneously. Persons in any other category should file in Form I-539 to extend the stay.

Take care of these while applying to extend the stay

When an applicant’s status has already expired before filing in to get an extension, the nhe/she will be considered to have fallen ‘out of status. Under such conditions, it is unlikely to get an extension. Also, this status will jeopardize the applicant’s future visa applications or any immigration issues.

Another situation is where the applicant has already filed in the application to extend the stay, before the expiry of his/her I-94 but the time period is over. Until this petition is processed, the USCIS will not start any proceedings against the applicant. However, the US Department of Homeland Security may do it even if the petition is pending. The processing time of this petition is not fixed and it may vary from applicant to applicant. USCIS recommends the applicants to apply to extend their stay no later than 60 days of the expiry of their I-94. They can file it as early as 6 months before the expiry of the same.

Another important thing is, filing in an application to extend the stay does not ensure any guarantee for getting the same. The USCIS will consider the application and review the reasons for requesting an extension and only then arrive at a decision. The length of extension is also under the pure discretion of the USCIS. Once a person has filed in to extend the stay, they will be issued with a receipt to track their applications.

citizenship application |
us citizenship form
This article is free for republishing
Bookmark and Share

Ask a Question about this Article

powered by Yedda