What is Form I-539?

The form I-539 ( Application to extend/change non-immigrant status) is used by people in the US who wish to change their status from one non- immigrant status to another or to extend their stay. In certain situations the applicant may use this form to apply for initial non-immigrant status. Students who have non-immigrant F1 and M1 visas may also use this form to apply for reinstatement.

Application to extend/change non-immigrant status:

The form I-539 must be filed before the current authorized stay expires. The law requires the form I-539 to be filed at least 45 days before the stay expires or when the applicant determines the need to change the status.

If the applicant files the Form I-539 to change status or extend the stay after the stay expires, he/she may be justified when the applicant provides an explanation that the delay in filing the petition is reasonable such as,

– the delay was due to unavoidable circumstances
– have not violated the status in anyway
– still a bona-fide non-immigrant
– not in removal proceedings

Who may file:

Individuals who are in the non-immigrant status in the United States such as B1 and B2 visitors, E2, E3 visitors,Vocational, academic and non-academic students, J1 exchange visitors, Dependents of temporary workers in H1 status, Dependents of religious workers in R status, Spouse and children of Permanent Residents in V status, Workers and dependents in TN status can petition to extend their stay.

An individual is eligible to file form I-539 to change the status only when he/she

– has entered US lawfully with a non-immigrant visa,
– has a non-immigrant visa that is still valid,
– does not have any criminal background,
– has not committed any other crime to violate the non-immigrant status.

Spouse and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of the individual may be included in the application only when they are in the same status as that of the applicant or in the derivative status.

Who may not file:

Individuals who were admitted under Visa waiver program and those who are in a transit (with or without a visa), crewmen or a fiancé(e) or dependent of a fiancé are not eligible to apply for extension of stay or change their status.

Processing Information:

The eligible applicants must complete and send the Application to extend/change non-immigrant status to USCIS along with required evidence and relevant fees. After USCIS receives the petition, they will check for completeness. USCIS may require more information from the applicant and may request the applicants to appear for an interview. At the interview the original evidences will be checked for eligibility. The approval of the Form I-539 will be determined by the applicant’s eligibility, based on the purpose of the petition and the reasons for changing status or extension of their stay. If the petition is for extension of stay, the period of extension will be decided by the USCIS. A petition will be denied by USCIS if there are circumstances for an unwarranted extension. The applicants will be notified by a notification letter from USCIS on the approval of the petition.

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42 Responses to What is Form I-539?

  1. Manoj Dhawan says:

    I have filed green card for my mother, who is in US on a B2 visa. What is the advice for someone in this situation – for extension of I94 ?

    • Paul says:

      If you are U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old, then only you can petition for Parents. If you have filed Form I-130 and Form I-485 concurrently and you have received Form I-485 receipt number you don’t have to extend or worry about the extension of the B-2 visa. Else you can extend the B-2 visa.

  2. Manoj Dhawan says:

    Thanks, it makes sense. I applied for I-130 but I did not file I-485 at the same time. Do I now need to wait till I-130 processing completes or can I file I485 before that ?
    Thanks again,

  3. Nurul Arefin says:

    I am changing my Non immigrant status from F1 to H1B. If it is required to file form I-539 in that case?

    • Paul says:

      F1 to H1B visa transfer process is easy provided you have a job and employer is willing to apply for H1B Visa using the Form I-129(Petition for Alien Worker) Form I539 is not required.

  4. Manoj Dhawan says:

    Paul – You said in your reply that I have to wait for I-130 receipt. Did you mean just a receipt number (which came a week after the application) or I need to wait for I-130 processing to complete before I can apply I-485 for my mom?
    Thanks again for your help.

    • Paul says:

      Week after you’ll receive notice of action, which tell your application has been accepted. The processing time for Form I-130 will take almost on average of 5 month to 24 month. Later you have to file Form I-485.

  5. Ana Luz says:

    Hi…I need some help. My grandmother came to the USA to visit and her 90 day visit is soon to expire. My dad which is a citizen, sent in the I-130 and received the receipt letter. Do we have to file an extension for her visa as well? Also, with the I-130 receipt letter can we file the I-485 already or do we have to wait for the visa #?
    Thank you in advance,

  6. TD says:

    I’m on the E3 but been laid off and was thinking of applying for a change of status to the B2 to give me more time to wrap things up before leaving the US. My question is if I get a new job while the change of status is processing, what happens to my B2 application? I spoke to an immigration lawyer and they said unless I had a really good reason for the B2, I should just leave within 10 days of been laid off and try get a new job overseas. Is she correct?

    • Paul says:

      You only are allowed to be out of employment legally for 10 days. You can say something like this when change the status to B-2 Visa, that “you’ll have bear all the costs from any savings and regular expenses and finding a new position while trying to do it in record time and fit in with the regulations“. Which may help in obtaining but can’t guarantee.

  7. Teresa says:

    Hi,Im on my process of applying for I-20.I called the imigration about the f1 visa and they told me to file for I 539.My stay will expire on march 25 2011 and im a B2 visa.So I dont know if I will apply straight to f1 visa or I need to have my stay extended first.Also Im a dependent one like a spomsor .what do my sponsor needs to present about her financial support for me?ex bank statement.etc/..

  8. valerie says:

    hey i have a question, so i have M-1 visa and going to apply for OPT, internship. My school almost ended and my visa expires at april 26th. Will it be too late if i send out the form now? I need to send out i-765 and i-539 right? and also while im waiting for the extension, am I be able to stay here even after april 26th? thank you very much!

  9. Amy says:

    My I-539 got denied, but I still remain in the US, then I got married to a USC, will the denied I-539 affect my green card process? Do I need to file the cancellation of removal process?

  10. Cirila says:

    Hi, i enter US as a fiancee visa and now we apply for Change of Status (I-485) and just 2 days ago we received a notice requesting for Initial evidence. If initial evidence is submitted they will process within 90 days of upon receipt. My stay will expire on October 11, 2011 do i need to apply for extension of stay?

    Your advice is very much appreciated!

  11. Ana says:


    I came with a B2 visa, but now I am thinking in search for a postdoctoral studentship sponsored by my country. I have been 6 months. How many months should I ask for an extension to the inmigration office? What would give me more chances of been approved for a postdoctoral: to apply for this visa or leave the country and try to get in later?
    thank you

    • Paul says:

      You can extend you B2 visa, for another 6 month if you have valid reason.

      Both the J-1 and H-1B visa categories for postdoctoral students require certification by your educational institution that you have the essential academic and employment backgrounds, as well as the financial suitability to support yourself during your research stay. Each institution has individualized policies and procedures to secure these types of visas, as well as their own time-frame to get the required certifications.

      After the institutional certification process is completed and documents received, you are required to secure a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, usually in your home country. The policies and procedures for issuing visas will differ from country to country. When securing the visa stamp, you must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond the anticipated ending date of your postdoctoral appointment.

  12. tyra says:

    i am from the uk and no longer able to go to usa under the visa waiver program because i overstayed last year by 2 weeks, this was not my fault and i explained in the border of customs that i was unwell in hospital so i had to change the date that i travel but they gave me a six month visa (i just stayed for 2 weeks as i work in the UK) i came back and now i wish to travel back in january.i know i have the right to appeal but i dont know how to go about it and if i should extend the visa they gave me how can i do this and what would be the chances of me getting the b2 visa

    • Paul says:

      If you overstayed VWP, and the reason was medical and if you prove that with documents from the hospital guess you won’t have problem using VWP again.

  13. tyra says:

    but i dont have paperwork.i paid in a cheap hospital for just one shot and some pills that i needed . =( the second thing is ive tried so many places for help, half gave me back alternative email addresses which dont answer and half did not even reply.As im in the UK its abit harder to contact the US embassy direct

  14. amir says:

    hi everyone,

    i am a UK citizen and came to the us just 4weeks ago,i stay with my parent who are us citizen.my dad is too old and he is going to have operation soon.my question is can i extend my visa(90 days) while i am here?also my mother has applied i-130 for me 6 years ago and my file is in the queue in London embassy ( visa center) for interview process.

    • Paul says:

      US Visitor visa can be extended up to 1 year max. If you entered US on Visa Waiver Program, its extension is not possible, this might cause problem when you enter US next time.

  15. Ronald says:

    Hi Paul,

    I have received my I-20 and I would like to enter the US on a Visitor Visa more than 30 days before school begins. I am currently living out of the US. My question is: when do I have to file the I-539 form? Before or after I enter the US? Is there any other documents that I need to file along with this?

    Thank you for your help

    • Paul says:

      Form I-539 is used to change or extend the non-immigrant visa.

      You may arrive up to 30 days before the start of school as indicated on your I-20. So you don’t need any Visitor Visa.

  16. Anon says:


    Can i apply for Change of Status from F1 to H4,

    My OPT is denied a week back,

    My Immigrant(AOS) Status is Pending

    Shall i fill Yes or No for the below 3 questions in 539 form

    A) Are you, or any other person included on the application, an applicant for an immigrant visa?

    B) Has an immigrant petition ever been filed for you or for any other person included in this application?

    C) Has a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, ever been filed by you or by any other person included in this application?

  17. Sam Oyebanj says:

    Hi, My mother in-law just arrived U.S about a month ago. My wife and I are both U.S citizen and above 21yrs. We would like to change her visiting visa to Permanent Residence. What Forms should we filed?

    • Paul says:

      Using a non-immigrant visa to enter the United States with the intent to immigrate is visa fraud. There are procedures for you to petition your mother in law, through an I-130 by your wife (in establishing the relationship) and later adjust the status.

  18. SH says:


    I have filed I-539 application for my mother (who entered on B2) and have not received a decision on her application yet. Her I-94 expires on Jun 19th. Can she stay in the country beyond this date if we do not hear of the decision until then? What happens if her application for extension is denied?


    • Paul says:

      If denied, your mother’s visitors visa extension is denied prior to the expiration date of the CURRENT I-94 date, there are no consequences and you should leave normally before it expires.

      As long as you filed the extension application before the expiration date of the current I-94 form, you are in legal status as long as the application is pending or 240 days, whichever comes first.

      If you are still in the U.S. when your extension application is denied, you immediately go out of status. But legally, there is no grace period.

  19. Liz says:

    Hello, I entered the us on a B1 visa and the custom officer only granted me a 2 month stay, may I request a longer stay? And do i need to file a I-539?

  20. KA says:


    I am currently on L2 Visa and my i-94 and visa validity date is till Dec-2012.
    My husband’s L1 visa expires in Dec-2012 but his i-94 date has been extended till 2015.
    I wanted to know if I apply for extension by filing I-539 form will my i-94 date be extended till 2015?

    Also since his i-94 has already been extended will his employers be able to file for my extension throgh I-539 or I need to individually file for the same?

    • Paul says:

      L-2 visa holders can live in the United States for the entire length of time authorized in their spouse’s L-1 visa.

      To extend your stay in the United States, you should file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status, with USCIS before your visa expires.(45 days before expiration).

      While the dependents of L-1 cannot be included on Form I-129 they can all be included on one Form I-539 to extend L-2 status.

      • KA says:

        Thanks for the response Paul. I will be filing the form I-539 independently to extend my i-94 date.

        Do you know how much time it normally takes for the extension process? I wanted to know the average processing time since after my i-94 gets extended I want to apply for my EAD renewal.

        I think based on the extended i-94 I can apply for my EAD renewal. Please let me know if this is correct.

  21. cha says:

    hi paul. i just want to ask how long does it take for the USCIS to make a decision. because i passed my i539 last mar19. they have already notified me that they have already accepted my application. my i94 will expire on may 2. and i have a plane ticket that will leave on april19. i dont know what to do. please help. thanks.

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