Of the many visas granted in the United States, visas for visiting the United States comes to you with a time line and you must leave the country or face the risk of being deported. However, there are instances where a person may wish to stay longer in the United States before returning to his or her home country. If that is the case, it is important to file for a visa extension, or change of status, so that you as an applicant are not forcibly removed and also to prevent from being barred from entering the United States in the future.
Lets check some of the eligibility criteria that apply for a US visa extension.
Extending the US visas is not that easy as it might seem on paper. Several different requirments are to be met for your US visas to be extended. An extension can only be applied if:
- You have entered into the US lawfully with a valid non-immigrant visa.
- Your immigrant visa is still valid
- Your passport is still valid and will remain so even during your extended stay in the United States.
- You have not committed any crimes that might invalidate your visa.
- You have not violated any conditions of your admission to the U.S.
If you have met these restrictions, your US visas may be extended by filing the application to extend your stay in the US. One interesting fact is that you can use the same application to either extend or change your status with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.
You can use the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Your Nonimmigrant status.
Some US visas are not eligible for an extension. You cannot file to lengthen your stay if you were admitted to the US as:
- A fiance(e) of a US Citizen or child of that fiance(e)
- Being part of the Visa Waiver Program.
- Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa).
- A traveler through the US on a C nonimmigrant visa.
- A traveler through the U.S. without a valid visa.
- An informant of organized crime or terrorism.
Broadly the US visas are categorized into two. They are:
- Immigrant visas: The immigrant visa are for those immigrants who intend to reside permanently in the United States (whether or not they intend to take up work). To qualify for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a US citizen or relative(s) or by a prospective employer. In all these cases an Affidavit of Support Form is required for family-based and employment based immigrants, to prove that there is adequate means of financial support in the United States, by the petitioner or the sponsor(s) for the immigrants.
- Non-Immigrant visas: This is the second type of US visas and is intended for people with permanent residence outside the United States but who wish to be in the United States for a short duration only. In short, their visa is for visiting the United States temporarily. This visa is mainly for persons who are entering for tourism, studies, business, medical treatment, as professional journalists, as representatives of any Government, etc.