B1/B2 Visa – How Long Can I Stay?
President Trump has been a harsh critic of illegal immigration even before he moved into the Oval Office. On April 22, 2019, he issued a memo that called the current overstay rates “unacceptably high” and termed them as a “widespread problem.” He also instructed federal agencies like the USCIS and DHS to take action against countries and individuals that have an overstay rate of more than 10%. Actions against people have generally included deportation and ban on any future entry into the country.
So, it’s all the more important for you to know the duration of authorized stay under the B-1/B-2 visa.
The B-1/B-2 visa allows you to reside in the US for a period of six months and its validity can range from one month to 10 years. In case you wish to stay for a longer duration, there is an option to file an application for visa extension. Here’s how you can apply for it.
When to Apply for Visa Extension
You can apply for it if there is a valid reason for change of plans, you entered the US legally, you have not in any way violated any of the conditions of your visa and you can sustain yourself financially for the extended duration.
Don’t forget to get Travel Insurance
It’s a great idea to get Travel insurance when traveling to USA. As medical cost (even for the common cold) can run into hundreds of dollars in the US, it is recommended that you get good medical insurance, before your trip. Good thing is that if you buy it online before your trip, it may be cheaper.
Remember that an extension needs to be filed before your current B-1/B-2 visa expires. You can check the expiry date on the I-94 Arrival-Departure record. In case you fail to do so, you could be deported and/or face a permanent ban on entry into the US due to overstaying your visa.
The USCIS recommends that people seeking an extension should file the application at least 45 days before the expiry of their visa. The fee for a visa extension application is $370. In case you are also applying for your spouse and children, they will be included in the same application fee.
The documents needed while filing a visa extension with the USCIS include:
- Completely filled “Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status” or the I-539 Form
- A letter that adequately describes the reason for seeking an extension
- Documents to prove your ability to bear the expenses for the extended stay. This can include bank statements, income tax receipts, credit card statements or similar details of your sponsor (if applicable)
Remember to check whether your passport is valid for 6 months beyond the extension you’ve requested for.
After the application is successfully filed, you will be given a receipt with a 13-digit case number, along with the expected processing time.
What If I Get Visa Extension?
In case your request is approved, you will receive a new I-94 card, which will contain the revised official departure date. Make sure you create a copy of the same and keep it safe, since acts as a reference for any future US trips. When you leave the country, you’ll have to submit both the old and new I-94 cards.
If your application is rejected, a letter explaining the reason for it will be provided. You will then need to leave the US before your original B-1/B-2 visa expires.