As a non-immigrant, you gain entry into the United States of America for specific purposes such as study, business or pleasure and for a definite time period. When you enter the United States on a non-immigrant visa, a U.S. official examines your visa and passport and hands you Form I-94.
The Form I-94 maintains the record of your Arrival and Departure and only the date mentioned in this form states the date of your departure, not the one in your visa.
The date is usually mentioned in the lower end on the right-hand part of your Form. This Form I-94 is an essential proof of your authorized stay in US. With this form, you can also prove that you did not infringe any U.S. laws. Violating any immigration law, might subject you to deportation so proof should be provided that you are willing to conform to the U.S. immigration laws.
Extension of the US Visa Status – Eligibility
In order to extend or change your visa status, you need the permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You may apply for the extension of your immigration visa under certain conditions, like:
- You have entered lawfully in to the United States, with a non-immigrant visa
- The status of the non-immigrant visa should remain valid
- The conditions of your admission have not been violated
- No such crime has been committed by you
- You have a valid passport and its validity period falls within the period of your stay
Who cannot apply for the extension of their non-immigrant visa?
Those who belong to the following categories of visa cannot appeal to extend their non-immigrant visa status. The visa categories are:
- D type Visa for Crewman
- S Visa – Informant or Witness exceeding three years of stay
- C Visa – Alien while in transit
- K1 or K2 Visa – Fiancée or his / her dependent
- Transit without Visa or TWOV
Who can apply for the extension of Visa Status?
Non-immigrants belonging to the following categories of visa can apply for their visa extension. The categories are:
- Investors and Treaty Traders Visa, which is E-2 or E-1 type
- L1A or L1B – Intra-company Transferees
- P-1, P-2 or P-3 –Athletes and Entertainers
- R-1 – Religious Workers
- Temporary Workers visa. The types are H2A, H1B, H3 or H2B
- O1 or O2 – Aliens of astonishing ability
- Q1 – Member in Cultural Exchange Programs of International standards
- TN1 or TN2– Mexicans or Canadians under NAFTA
In these cases the petition needs to be made by the employer. He should file the Form I 129 (appeal for Non-Immigrant Worker) to the USCIS, on behalf of the applicant.
Non-immigrants belonging to the following visa categories can extend their immigrant status themselves. The categories are:
- A3 – Servants, Personal staff of Govt. employees, Attendants
- H-4 –Temporary Workers’ Dependents
- L-2 –Intra-company Transferees’ Dependents
- NATO7 –Personal staff of Representatives of NATO, Attendants
- P-4 –Athletes and Entertainers’ Dependents
- TD – Dependents of TN (Mexicans and Canadians under NAFTA)
- B-1 or B-2 – Impermanent Visitors for Pleasure or Business
- G-5 – Attendants, Personal staff of Foreign Govt. Officials, Servants
- K-3 or K-4 –Minor Child or Spouse of a Citizen of USA
- M – Dependents and Vocational Students
- O-3 –Aliens’ Dependents
- N – Children and parents of individuals who have achieved immigrant status, which is special
- R-2 – Religious Workers’ Dependents
- B1 and B2 – Visitors for pleasure or business
About I-539 Immigration Form
I-539 immigration form is the Application to Extend or Change the non-immigrant status. In the U.S., this form is used by those individuals who either wish to adjust their non-immigrant status from one status to another or to extend their stay. In some cases, the Form I-539 immigration form is used by those individuals who want to apply for the preliminary non-immigrant status. This Form might also be used by the students who possesses M1 and F1 non-immigrant visas and want to apply for reinstatement.
The major criterion is that the I-539 immigration form needs to be filed before the expiration of the present authorized stay (Form I-94). In fact, the I-539 immigration form needs to be filed at least 45 days prior to the expiration of the stay. It can also be filed when the applicant decides to change the status.
In case, I-539 immigration form is filed after the expiration of the stay or in order to change status, the applicant needs to justify the reason and provide an explanation for the delay. In some cases, the delay in filing the petition is considered to be reasonable such as:
- The delay did not violate the status in any manner
- Was due to unavoidable circumstances
- Not in removal proceedings
- The applicant is still a bona-fide non-immigrant
The Process of Extending or Changing the U.S. Visa Status through I-539 immigration Form
Before the expiry of the Form I-94, the I-539 immigration form needs to be submitted to the USCIS, along with other required documents. The application should be complete and the information must be accurate. Along with I-539 immigration form, the fee also needs to be mailed to the address, instructed in the form.
After receiving the petition, USCIS will check the completeness of the form. The USCIS may ask for more information from the applicants and might request them to appear for an interview. At the interview, the original documents of the applicants are checked for eligibility. The approval of the I-539 immigration form depends on the eligibility of the applicant, the purpose of his petition and the reason for the change in the status or the extension of the stay.
In case of extension of stay, USCIS decides the period of extension. The USCIS has the right to deny a petition if the circumstances are for an unwarranted extension. If the petition is approved, USCIS will notify the applicants through a notification letter.