Millions of people visit the United States each year on nonimmigrant visas like B-2 tourist visas and B-1 business visas. Sometimes visitors are unable to leave the country on time due to uncontrollable factors. If you meet certain requirements, you can consider applying for a nonimmigrant visa extension, which may allow you to stay in the U.S. for up to 240 days beyond the expiration date of your I-94 form. This article provides information on the application fee, processing time and required documents for the extension process.
What is a nonimmigrant tourist visa?
Nonimmigrant visas are issued by the U.S. Department of State to foreign nationals who intend to stay in the U.S. temporarily for the purposes of tourism, business, medical treatment and certain types of temporary work. Different categories of nonimmigrants are authorized to stay in the U.S. for different periods of time.
The type of nonimmigrant visa required is defined by immigration law and is related to the purpose of the visit. In general, individuals may directly apply for a tourist visa (B-2) or business nonimmigrant (B-1) visa to a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. However, foreign nationals wishing to enter the U.S. for study or work may need certain authorizations and documents before applying for a nonimmigrant visa. Check out the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or the U.S. Department of State website for a list of all nonimmigrant visa classifications and their requirements.
When to apply to extend a tourist visa
USCIS suggests that you apply at least 45 days before the expiration date of your authorized stay if you wish to extend your stay in the U.S. By applying for an extension before the expiration of your visa, you will not be considered an overstay and will not be subject to legal consequences if you remain in the U.S. after your visa expires. If you do not file an extension and remain in the country after your authorized period of stay expires, you may be barred from returning to the U.S. and may be subject to deportation (removal). You may also be required to apply for a new visa in your home country.
You may apply to extend your stay by filling out I-539 if:
- You lawfully entered the U.S. with a nonimmigrant visa
- Your nonimmigrant visa status is still valid
- You have not committed any crimes rendering you ineligible for a visa
- You have not violated the conditions of your admission
- Your passport is and will be valid throughout your stay
You can find the expiration date of your authorized period of stay on Form I-94 in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94, known as an Arrival-Departure Record. Form I-539 has additional restrictions and requirements for certain nonimmigrants, which can be found here.
Do not file Form I-539 to request an extension of stay in, or change of status to, any of the following classifications:
- E-1 principal treaty traders and E-1 principal employees of a treaty trader
- E-2 principal treaty investors and E-2 principal employees of a treaty investor
- E-2 CNMI principal investors
- E-3 principal specialty occupation workers from Australia
Note: Eligible dependents of family members of E principal nonimmigrants must file the Form I-539 to extend their stay or change their status unless they are seeking to change to a status listed here, in which case, they may NOT use the Form I-539.
- H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 nonimmigrants
- L-1 nonimmigrants
- O-1 and O-2 nonimmigrants
- P-1, P-2, P-3, P-1S, P-2S, or P-3S nonimmigrants
- Q-1 nonimmigrants
- R-1 nonimmigrants
- TN-1 and TN-2 nonimmigrants
If you submit your request on the incorrect form, your case may be rejected or denied. USCIS will not refund your filing fees if your case is denied.
Application process for a visa extension
To file an I-539, you need your I-94 number. If you forgot your I-94 number, you can visit this page to look it up. You can submit the petition online or by mailing it in a paper form. You need to submit the petition by the expiration date shown on your I-94 card.
How much does it cost to extend a tourist visa?
The application cost is $370. You and each co-applicant must also pay an $85 biometric services fee unless you belong to the groups specified on this website.
You can pay the fee with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check or pay by credit card using Form G-1450, also known as Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Should you have any questions about how to file Form I-539, please contact USCIS at 800-375-5283 or 800-767-1833 (TTY). If your petition is denied and you wish to appeal, consult a legal professional for advice.