In the United States, many visas for visiting the country come with restricted time lines, and you must leave the country before it expires or face deportation. However, sometimes a person may decide to stay longer in the U.S. before returning to his or her home country. In order to do so, though, it is important to file a visa extension, or change of status, so that you are not forcibly removed and possibly barred from entering the United States in the future.
To be eligible for a visa extension, you must meet several different requirements. For you to be considered for an extension, you can only apply if:
- You entered the U.S. lawfully with a nonimmigrant visa
- Your visa is still valid
- Your passport is still valid and will remain so even during your extended stay
- You have not committed any crimes that invalidate your visa
- You have not violated conditions of your admission to the U.S.
If you meet these restrictions, you can file to extend your stay. Interestingly, you do not actually file for an extension. Rather, you can file to change your status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS. You use the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
Some types of visas are not eligible for an extension. You may not file to lengthen your stay if you were admitted to the U.S. as one of the following:
- A fiance or child of a person affianced to a U.S. citizen (K nonimmigrant visa)
- Part of the Visa Waiver Program
- Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa)
- A traveler through the U.S. (C nonimmigrant visa)
- A traveler through the U.S. without a visa
- An informant of organized crime or terrorism (S nonimmigrant visa)