The 2018 Overstay report by the US Department of Homeland Security states that for non-Visa Waiver Program countries, the suspected overstay rate was 1.86%. A number of people have been penalized via deportation and/or entry bans due to unauthorized stay in the US. To avoid any such action, it is best to apply for visa extension as soon as the need arises.
Here’s a look at the process to apply for a visit visa extension in the US.
When to Apply for US Visa Extension
You should apply for the extension before your current visa expires, since you could face serious consequences if you overstay your welcome in the US. The penalty for overstaying your visa can range from getting deported to a three-year ban on re-entry to the United States.
You can find the expiry date of your existing visit visa on your Form I-94, which is the Arrival-Departure record.
Don’t forget to get insurance.
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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the primary authority on immigration matters, advises visitors to apply at least 45 days before the expiry date mentioned on the I-94. While it can be tough to adhere to this guideline, make sure you file for the extension as soon as you are sure about your plans of staying for a bit longer.
Apart from this, you should ensure that there have been no violations to the tourist visa conditions, that your entry was legal and that you have sufficient funds to last you through the extended period.
Documents Needed for US Visa Extension
You’ll need to provide the USCIS with certain documents to make a valid case for your visit visa extension, such as:
- Accurately filled Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status form, also known as Form I-539. If you wish to apply for your spouse and children, include their details in the same form.
- Proof of your financial status to reassure the USCIS that you can sustain yourself during the extended period. This can include, but is not limited to, bank or credit card statements, tax receipts, or the details of your sponsor (if any). This is crucial as the USCIS does not want you to work in the US without a work visa.
- A copy of your I-94 form
- Proof of your plans to return to your home country before the extension period expires. For this, you can provide a copy of your return tickets.
- A copy of all the pages of your passport. Ensure that the passport is valid for at least 6 months after the requested extended period.
Steps After Filing the Application
Once you’ve submitted the form and necessary documents, the USCIS will provide you a receipt with a 13-digit case number. You can use this number to check the status of your application online.
Apart from this, you will also be scheduled for a biometrics appointment at the closest Application Service Center (ASC) to get fingerprinted. This applies to all applicants mentioned in the form.
If your I-94 expires while the application is still being processed, you may be allowed to stay in the US for a maximum of 240 days. If the visa extension is granted, you will get a new I-94, which will mention the new departure date. Make a copy of this, since you might need it for any future visits to the United States.
When you leave, make sure you submit both the old and new I-94 cards. If your application gets denied, you will need to leave the US on the original departure date.