Why Do You Need to Extend Your Nonimmigrant Status?
A nonimmigrant temporarily enters the United States for a specific purpose such as business, study, or pleasure. When you entered the country as a nonimmigrant, a U.S. immigration inspector should have examined your passport and visa and then given you an USCIS 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 USCIS 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 Immigration and Naturalization Service (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).
What Does the Law Say?
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) governs the admission of all people to the United States. For the part of the law concerning temporary admissions to the United States, please see INA § 214. The applicable regulations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 8 CFR § 214.
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 USCIS 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:
(VWPP) – Visa Waiver Pilot Program
D – As a crewman
C – As an alien in transit or in transit without a 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
For the following categories of nonimmigrants, your employer should carefully read and file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and any supporting documentation:
E – International Traders and Investors
H – Temporary Workers
L – Intracompany Transferees
O – Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
P – Entertainers and Athletes
Q – Participants in International Exchange Programs
R – Religious Workers
TN – Canadians and Mexicans Under NAFTA
If you are in the following nonimmigrant categories, you should carefully read and complete an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and submit any required supporting documents:
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.
How Do My Spouse and Child Apply to Extend Their Stay in the United States?
If your employer files a Petition for Alien Worker for you, then your spouse and child must carefully read and complete an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and submit any required supporting documents to extend their stay. It is best to submit both forms at the same time.
If you are filing for your own extension, you may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your application if you are all in the same nonimmigrant category. You may also include your spouse or children in your application if they were given derivative nonimmigrant status. This means that your spouse and children were given nonimmigrant visas based on your nonimmigrant status. For instance, if a student is given an F-1 “Academic Student” visa, then the spouse and child are given F-2 “Spouse and Child of an Academic Student” visas.
When Should I Apply?
The Law Office of Paul B. Christensen recommends that you apply to extend your stay at least 45 days before your authorized stay expires, but the USCIS Service Center must receive your application by the day your authorized stay expires.
What If My Authorized Stay Has Already Expired? (What If I Am Late Filing for an Extension?)
If you are late filing for an extension and your authorized 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 Can I Check the Status of My Application?
Click on the menu button to the left, labeled “Check Case Status” and enter your file number.
How Do I Get Another USCIS 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.