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EXTENDING YOUR TEMPORARY STAY IN THE UNITED STATES

Due to the ongoing travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many immigrants currently visiting the U.S. are asking if they can extend their stay.  The B-1/B-2 Visa and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are two common ways immigrants visit the United States. In this post we will explain how to extend your stay in the United States if you currently have a temporary visa or the Visa Waiver Program.

What to do if you are currently in the United States on a Temporary Visa?

If you are currently in the United States on a temporary visa such as a B-2 tourist visa it is very important that you do not remain in the U.S. beyond the date issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.  You can find the date that you are required to leave the United States by going to the following link, I-94 Form.

ALERT:  ALTHOUGH THE CBP OFFICER STAMPS YOUR PASSPORT WITH YOUR ENTRY AND DEPARTURE DATE, THE DATE THAT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO LEAVE THE UNITED STATES CONTAINED IN YOUR PASSPORT MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM THE DATE THAT IS ENTERED ON THE I-94 FORM.  THE DATE THAT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO LEAVE THE UNITED STATES IS THE DATE THAT IS ON THE I-94 FORM, NOT THE DATE WRITTEN IN YOUR PASSPORT.

What to do if you are currently in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

If you are currently in the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), after receiving approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), your stay in the United States is limited to a maximum of 90 days.

ALERT:  IN MOST CASES, A VISA WAIVER CANNOT BE EXTENDED BEYOND THE 90 DAY PERIOD.  IN CERTAIN VERY LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES, SUCH AS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU CAN CONTACT THE CBP AT THE AIRPORT WHERE YOU ARRIVED INTO THE U.S. AND REQUEST THAT YOUR 90 DAY DEPARTURE DATE BE EXTENDED 30 DAYS.  YOU SHOULD CONTACT THE CBP OFFICE AT THE AIRPORT WHERE YOU ENTERED THE U.S. BEFORE YOUR DEPARTURE DATE.  GO TO CBP SATISFACTORY DEPARTURE FOR MORE INFORMATION.  IN ADDITION, YOU CAN ALSO CONTACT U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (USCIS) AT USCIS CONTACT (GO TO THE “LIVE ASSISTANCE” TAB TO SPEAK TO AN OFFICER) IN ORDER TO REQUEST SATISFACTORY DEPARTURE.

If you have last entered the U.S. with a B-1/B-2 tourist visa you can file an I-539 application with USCIS requesting an extension of your stay for up to 6 months as long as the application is filed BEFORE the departure date contained on the I-94 form.  The I-539 can be found at the following link I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.  USCIS provides a checklist for the supporting documents needed for the I-539 based on the type of visa that you are asking to be extended.  USCIS Checklist for I-539.  Generally, for an extension of stay for a B-1/B-2 tourist visa, you will need to include a copy of your I-94 form that you obtained online as well as a written statement stating why you are requesting an extension of stay. In your written statement you should include how you will be supporting yourself during the extension of stay (for example, savings from employment in your country, money provided by friends or relatives, etc.).

ALERT: YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE EMPLOYED AND RECEIVE INCOME FROM A U.S. BUSINESS DURING YOUR VISIT, EVEN IF YOU HAVE A B-1 BUSINESS VISITOR VISA.  ANY UNAUTHORIZED EMPLOYMENT CAN BE CONSIDERED A VIOLATION OF YOUR VISA BY USCIS.

The Consequences of Overstaying Your Visitor Visa or Visa Waiver

If you overstay your B-1/B-2 visa or Visa Waiver you are subject to deportation from the United States.  In addition, if you are out of status for more than 180 days and then leave the United States you are then barred from returning to the United States for three years.  If you are out of status for more than 1 year and then leave the United States you will be barred from returning to the United States for 10 years.

In Conclusion

If you are presently in the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visitor visa you can file an application for extension of stay with USCIS before the date you are required to leave the U.S.  However, you will need to explain why the extension is necessary and how you will support yourself during that time period.  If you are presently in the U.S. on a visa waiver it will be much more difficult for you to extend your stay since you will have to persuade a CBP officer that you have an emergency which prevents you from leaving on your original departure date.  Even if the CBP officer extends your stay through satisfactory departure the extension is limited to thirty days.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                           

DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.  The reader should not act upon this information without first seeking professional legal advice.

                                                                                                                                                           

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