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How to apply for visa extension in USA?

Ieva Miltina Ieva Miltina 18 July 2021
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You've been in the US for a while and notice that you like it there quite much. So much that you would prefer staying there instead of returning back home. Maybe it is the local culture or the absolutely amazing job opportunity you've found. Or even better - a special someone that has caught your heart and you would want to make it work long-term. There are quite many reasons one might encounter, and all of them are legit. But there is a requirement that ensures you are extending your stay legitimately, too. It is a visa extension USA requires from you.

So what does it mean for you, and how to apply for extension of visitor visa in USA? What are the things to keep in mind before you become illegal in the US, and if you applied for a visitor visa extension USA how often do they deny the request? I will try to answer the most common questions about the general visitor, including tourist visa extension USA; as for other types of visas, the extensions come with particular conditions that are strongly connected to the purpose of your stay. For example, student visa extension USA is only possible in case of health issues, change of major, or some other particular case. Anyhow, shall we start with the basics?

What is a visitor visa for the USA?

businessman using laptop near the globe

It is a B-1/B-2 type visa that is issued for travelers that are coming to the US for business, medical treatment, or tourism. It is a non-immigrant visa type that allows you a maximum of 6-month recorded stay within 1 to 10 years. The Customs and Border Protection officer decide the validity and the allowed length of stay at the moment of your arrival. They will note the expiry date on your Form I-94, which will also be the time by which you should be gone from the US. So what if you would like to stay more?

Who can apply for a visa extension in USA?

usa visa

There are a few requirements that are clearly stated. If one or several of those are not applicable to your particular situation, unfortunately, you are not eligible for visa extension USA.

• You have to be lawfully admitted into the US with a non-immigrant visa.

• At the moment of the application for the extension, your visa status must be valid (I will elaborate on this later).

• During your stay, you must not have committed any crimes that deem you ineligible for a visa in general.

• You must not have violated the conditions of your admission.

• Your passport has to be valid until the end of the desired stay.

It doesn't seem too complicated, does it? You will hear some more information about actions and requirements that will help you to figure out how to apply for extension of tourist visa in USA in the following paragraphs.

Let me touch on another topic here. Even though it is not the central topic of this article, many people have asked me what are the types of valid USA visa required for applying OPT extension? It is definitely not the visitor type of visa. You have to be a STEM student (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with a degree earned in the US to apply for this Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension. That means that the valid USA visa required for applying OPT extension is a study visa that has not expired. Alternatively, you might apply for a student visa extension USA if you want to continue your studies.

So who may not apply to extend their stay in the USA?

non-immigrant visas

If you were admitted to the US within one of the categories below, then you are not eligible for an extension:

• On a Visa Waiver Program

• A crew member or D non-immigrant visa

• In transit through the US - holder of C non-immigrant visa

• In transit through the US without a visa (TWOV)

Fiance of a US citizen or dependent of a fiance - holder of K non-immigrant visa

• Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime - holder of S non-immigrant visa.

These are just a few cases that will make you inadmissible.

How to apply for extension of visitor visa in USA?

building of the usa embassy

If you are wondering how to apply for extension of tourist visa in USA, here is a short description of the process you can expect. The main thing to do is - you will have to fill and submit Form I-539.

It is good to know that you can include your spouse and children under the age of 21 in the same application if you all currently hold the same visa status.

What additional documents are required when applying for a visa extension in USA?

Additionally to the form I mentioned in the previous paragraph, you will have to submit a copy of the I-94 of each applicant. Also, you will have to make a written statement explaining in detail everything about:

• Reasons why you are submitting the extension request at this time

• All the reasons why your stay would be temporary. Meaning, you have to prove to the officials that after the extension ends, you will definitely leave the US. You have to show all the arrangements you have made to ensure this (for example, flight ticket reservations, etc.)

• All the effects this longer stay might have on your job or residency in your home country. For example, confirmation from your employer might work.

Basically, with all these documents, you have to prove that your reasons are legitimate. And even more so - that you are definitely going to leave the precious US soil afterward.

How high is the visitor visa extension fee USA requires?


Yes, it is not a free ride. If you would like to stay longer, then the visitor visa extension fee USA officials will require you to pay is 370 USD. Additionally, depending on the visa type you are currently on, you might need to pay the biometric fee of 85 USD. But, hey, it's a great investment in securing a longer time in the land of the dreams, isn't it?

How long is the processing time of visa extension USA?

calendar turning pages

In each case, the process might take a different amount of time, but the official information suggests applying well ahead. That means at least 45 days before your current visa expires. Applying at the last moment will not leave a good impression and might leave you with a rushed departure in case the result is a negative answer.

When applying for a visitor visa extension USA how often do they deny it?

It is important you keep in mind that most of the requests for tourist visa extension USA receives will be denied. Unfortunately, you have to have very good reasoning behind your application to get accepted. Make sure that your application states a solid and grounded reason for this to ensure a more likely positive outcome.

What happens if I overstay my visa validity date?

passport and small statue of liberty

You should be leaving the US by the day your visa becomes invalid. Not complying with this might deem you deportable because you are residing on US soil illegally. Technically, often nothing much will happen if you leave yourself in a few days' time after the expiry, but not doing it for months will revoke any chances at obtaining a visa to the US in the future. You simply won't be able to enter the USA on any status.

Another thing to keep in mind is - the time when your application for extension is processed, which technically gives you a legal right to stay in the US until the answer comes. You are not on a visa, but you are not considered deportable, too. If your extension request is accepted, then your new visa date will start at the expiry of the previous one. If not - you will be asked to leave immediately or as soon as your current visa expires.

Let's wrap this up. Leaving is never easy, but if all the formalities allow - extending your visa can be a great way to push this dreadful event back a little. We are talking about the land of the dreams here, after all. Whatever your main reason for this stay is - I hope the information in this article has been helpful. And I keep my fingers crossed for you and your visa application because there is nothing better than being in the place where you want to be. In this case - there is nothing better than being in the USA, is it?

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Ieva Miltina
Ieva Miltina Activist and entrepreneur

Ieva Miltina is an activist and entrepreneur of many sorts. By profession project manager of marketing and culture events, in her heart she is a passionate traveler and a cook, soon to become a pastry chef. Deeply rooted in non-formal education she has been involved in youth work since her teenage years and up till nowadays holds a deep interest in innovative approaches to learning and personal development, which she transfers to people from all Europe during various international trainings. Always looking for new discoveries and adventures she happily shares her positive view on the world and the neverending stories with the people who cross her path. While studying hospitality and tourism management she wrote a thesis on home-chefs, which ignited her dream of owning her cozy and heartwarming home restaurant, which will hopefully materialize very soon. Meanwhile writing articles and doing food photography she is working towards another dream of hers - becoming a published author someday. 

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