How do I extend my stay?
Why Do You Need to Extend Your Nonimmigrant Status?
A nonimmigrant temporarily
enters the United States
for a specific purpose such as business, study, or pleasure. When you entered
the country as a nonimmigrant, a U.S. immigration inspector should
have examined your passport and visa and then given you a Form I-94
(Arrival/Departure Record). This record should tell you (in the lower
right-hand corner) when you must leave the United States. You can prove you
did not violate U.S.
laws by turning in your Form I-94 to the proper authorities when you leave the
country. If you want to extend your stay in the United States, then you must ask
for permission from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before
your authorized stay expires. Proof that you are willing to obey U.S. immigration laws will be important if you
want to travel to the United
States as an immigrant or nonimmigrant in
the future. If you break immigration laws, you may also become subject to
For more information on
Arrival-Departure Records, please see How Do I Get an Arrival-Departure Record?
What Does the Law Say?
The Immigration and
Nationality Act (INA) governs the admission of all people to the United States.
For the part of the law concerning temporary admissions to the United States,
please see INA § 214. The applicable regulations are found in the Code of
Federal Regulations (CFR) at 8 CFR § 214.
Who is Eligible?
You may apply to extend your
stay if you were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant
visa, your nonimmigrant visa status remains valid, and you have not committed
any crimes that would make you ineligible. You must apply to extend your status
if you wish to stay longer than the date indicated in the lower right-hand
corner of your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record). Please note, you must
submit the application for an extension of stay BEFORE your current authorized
stay expires. You must also keep your passport valid for your entire stay in
the United States.
You may not apply to extend
your stay if you were admitted to the United States in the following visa
- Visa Waiver Program
- As a crewman
- As an alien in transit or in transit without a visa
- As a fiancé of a U.S.
citizen or dependent of a fiancé
- As an informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime
How Do I Apply?
For the following categories
of nonimmigrants, your employer should carefully read
and file a CIS Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) and any supporting
E - International Traders and
H - Temporary Workers
L - Intracompany Transferees
O - Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
P - Entertainers and Athletes
Q - Participants in International Exchange Programs
R - Religious Workers
TN - Canadians and Mexicans Under NAFTA
If you are in the following
nonimmigrant categories, you should carefully read and complete USCIS Form
I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) and submit any
required supporting documents:
A - Diplomatic and other
government officials, and their families and employees.
B - Temporary visitors for business or pleasure.
F - Academic Students and their families
G - Representatives to international organizations and their families and
I - Representatives of foreign media and their families
J - Exchange Visitors and their families
M - Vocational Students and their families
N - Parents and children of the people who have been granted special immigrant
status because their parents were employed by an international organization in
the United States.
The application and correct
fee should be mailed to the USCIS
that serves the area where you are temporarily staying. If your nonimmigrant
category is work-related, then the application and correct fee should be mailed
to the USCIS Service Center
that serves the area where you will work. Forms are available by calling
1-800-870-3676, or by submitting a request through our forms by mail system.
For further information on filing fees, please see USCIS filing fees, fee
waiver request procedures, and the USCIS fee waiver policy memo. Please see our
USCIS field offices home page for more information on USCIS service centers.
How Do My Spouse and Child Apply to Extend Their Stay in the
If your employer files USCIS
Form I-129 (Petition for Alien Worker) for you, then your spouse and child must
carefully read and complete USCIS Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change
Nonimmigrant Status) and submit any required supporting documents to extend
their stay. It is best to submit both forms at the same time.
If you are filing USCIS Form
I-539 for your own extension, you may include your spouse and any unmarried children
under the age of 21 in your application if you are all in the same nonimmigrant
category. You may also include your spouse or children in your application if
they were given derivative nonimmigrant status. This means that your spouse and
children were given nonimmigrant visas based on your nonimmigrant status. For
instance, if a student is given an F-1 "Academic Student" visa, then
the spouse and child are given F-2 "Spouse and Child of an Academic
When Should I Apply?
We recommend that you apply
to extend your stay at least 45 days before your authorized stay expires, but
the USCIS Service Center
must receive your application by the day your authorized stay expires.
What If My Authorized Stay Has Already Expired? (What If I
Am Late Filing for an Extension?)
If you are late filing for an
extension and your authorized stay has already expired, you must prove that:
delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control;
length of the delay was reasonable;
have not done anything else to violate your nonimmigrant status (such as work
without USCIS approval);
are still a nonimmigrant (This means you are not trying to become a permanent
resident of the United
States. There are some exceptions.); and
are not in formal proceedings to remove (deport) you from the country.
How Can I Find Out About the Status of My Application?
Contact the USCIS office that
received your application. You should be prepared to provide the USCIS staff
with specific information about your application. Click here for instructions
on checking the status of your application. Click here for information on USCIS
How Do I Get Another Form I-94 "Arrival/Departure
Document" If the Original Was Submitted With the Application to Extend My
If your application for an
extension is approved, you will be issued a replacement I-94 with a new
departure date. If your application is denied, your original I-94 will be
returned with a request for your immediate departure.
How Can I Appeal?
If your application to extend
your stay is denied, you will receive a letter that will tell you why the
application was denied. You will not be allowed to appeal a negative decision
to a higher authority. However, you may submit a motion to reopen or a motion
to reconsider with the same office that made the unfavorable decision. By
filing these motions, you may ask the office to reexamine or reconsider their
decision. A motion to reopen must state the new facts that are to be provided
in the reopened proceeding and must be accompanied by affidavits or other
documentary evidence. A motion to reconsider must establish that the decision
was based on an incorrect application of law or USCIS policy, and further
establish that the decision was incorrect based on the evidence in the file at
the time the decision was made. For more information, please see How Do I
Appeal the Denial of Petition or Application?.