How to Extend a U.S. Non-Immigrant Visa
Updated: May 11
Many non-citizens in the U.S. are here on “non-immigrant visas.” Most non-immigrant visas are, by nature, temporary. So, if you’re here on a non-immigrant visa, you may be wondering: Can I extend my visa?
In an earlier post, I explain the difference between immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. If you’re unsure whether you’re here on an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, you may want to read that post.
Are you eligible to extend your visa?
You may apply to extend your non-immigrant visa if:
• You legally entered the U.S. as a non-immigrant;
• You have not done any crime or act that violates the conditions of your admission,
• You have not done any crime or act that prohibits you from receiving an immigration benefit
• Your passport is valid, and will still be valid for as long as you are in the U.S.
• There are no other factors that require you to depart the U.S. before you extend your status, and
• You can submit your application before your non-immigrant status expires. You should have received an I-94 form when you entered the U.S. Your expiration date should be on your I-94 form. If you can submit your application before this expiration date, you’re eligible to apply. It’s best to start your application early, so that you won’t end up filing too late.
Even if you qualify for an extension under the above conditions, you still may not apply to extend your visa if you were admitted to the U.S. under any of the following categories:
• C (Alien in Transit)
• D (Crewman)
• K-1 or K-2 (Fiancé(e) or Dependent of Fiancé(e))
• S (Witness or Informant beyond a total of 3 years)
• TWOV (Transit Without Visa)
• WT or WB (Visa Waiver Program)
How do you apply to extend your visa?
In general, you apply using either the Form I-539, or the Form I-129.
You should apply using the Form I-539 if you were admitted under one of the following categories:
• A-3 (Attendants, Servants, Personal Employees of Diplomatic and Other Government Officials and Immediate Family)
• B-1 and B-2 (Visitors for Business or Pleasure)
• E-1 and E-2 (Dependents of Treaty Traders, Treaty Investors, and Their Employees)
• E-3 (Dependents of Skilled Professionals from Australia)
• G-5 (Attendants, Servants, Personal Employees of Foreign Government Officials and Immediate Family)
• H-4 (Dependents of Temporary Skilled or Unskilled Workers and Trainees)
• K-3 and K-4 (Spouse of U.S. Citizen and Minor Child Accompanying/Following to Join)
• L-2 (Dependents of Intracompany Transferees)
• M (Vocational Students and Dependents)
• N (Parents and Children of Certain People Who Have Been Granted Special Immigrant Status)
• NATO-7 (Attendants, Servants, Personal Employees of NATO Representatives, Officials, Employees and Immediate Family Members)
• O-3 (Dependents of Aliens With Extraordinary Ability and Their Assistants)
• P-4 (Dependents of Athletes and Entertainers)
• R-2 (Dependents of Religious Workers)
• All “V” categories (Certain Second Preference Beneficiaries)
• TD (Dependents of Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA))
To see instructions on how to file Form I-539, click on the USCIS website here.
The Form I-129 is for non-immigrants admitted in certain employment categories. Your employer (rather than yourself) should file Form I-129 if you were admitted under one of the following categories:
• E-1 or E-2 (Treaty Traders, Treaty Investors, and Employees of Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors)
• E-3 (Skilled Professionals from Australia)
• H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3 (Temporary Skilled or Unskilled Workers and Trainees)
• L-1A or L-1B (Intracompany Transferees)
• O-1 or O-2 (Aliens with Extraordinary Ability and Their Assistants)
• P-1, P-2, or P-3 (Athletes and Entertainers)
• Q-1 (International Cultural Exchange Visitors)
• R-1 (Religious Workers)
• TN-1 or TN-2 (Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA))
To read how to file Form I-129, click here.
For further information
For more information on extending your non-immigrant visa, read the USCIS’ publication, “How do I extend my non-immigrant stay in the United States?”, available here. (Note that this USCIS publication was written in May 2016, and some of the information in it is out-of-date.)
Photo courtesy of https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/temporary-i-551-stamps-and-mrivs