What’s the US Visitor Visa Extension Process
Here's how you can extend your US visit.
The United States is home to some of the most iconic tourist destinations, such as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Walt Disney World and the Statue of Liberty. It is also packed with amazing hiking trails, glittering metropolises, and a diverse culture. No wonder, more than $177.2 billion were spent by tourists in the United States in 2014 alone, according to an article on List 25.
To travel to the US, unless you are a citizen of a nation that is part of the US Visa Waiver Program, you will need to apply for a visitor visa. A visitor visa allows you to travel to America for the purposes of pleasure, business, medical treatment, or a combination of these purposes. Also, this is a short-term visa, only allowing you to stay in the US for a period of up to six months.
The good news, however, is that in case you need to extend you stay in the US beyond 6 months, you can apply for a visit visa extension with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
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How Can You Extend US Visit Visa
If you wish to extend your stay in the US beyond the date mentioned in your I-94 Form, you need file a request with the USCIS, via Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non Immigration Status. Make sure you file the application at least 45 days before your current visa expires. If not, you could be deported or barred from returning to the US due to remaining in the country beyond the authorized period.
You are eligible to apply for visa extension if:
- The conditions of your admission to the United States have not been violated.
- You have a valid passport, which will remain valid for the entire duration of your extended stay.
- You can prove to the authorities that you intend to leave the US at the end of the proposed visa extension period.
- You can provide evidence of financial well-being, such that you can fund your extended stay.
- You have a lawful reason to apply for a visa extension.
- You were admitted legally into the US on a non-immigrant visa.
US Visitor Visa Extension Process
Here are the steps to follow to apply for visitor visa extension:
- The first step is to file the visa extension application by filling Form I-539. After filing the application, you would receive a receipt with a 13-digit number on it. The receipt will also have the approximate processing time on it.
- After receiving your receipt from the USCIS, you need to book a biometrics appointment at your closest ASC, where they will take your fingerprints. You will be charged $85 for the biometrics. The fee is the same for everyone, including minors. It is advisable to make a copy of this appointment letter, since it might prove useful for your future travels to the United States.
- In case of approval of your visa extension application, you will be granted a replacement I-94 form, with the new date of departure.
- In case of a rejection of the visa extension application, you will need to leave the US with immediate effect. You will receive a letter from the USCIS stating the reasons for the denial of your visa application.
As mentioned earlier, it is advisable to apply for a visa extension at least 45 days before the completion of your authorized stay. This gives you enough time for the processing of your application and for you to make other plans, in case your application is rejected.
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