Question: I entered the U.S. on a B-2 tourist visa approximately four months ago. As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, my return flight to China has been canceled, and I have been unable to purchase a return ticket. I am concerned that my authorized stay in the U.S. will expire in two months. Can I apply to extend my B-2 visitor status in the U.S.? If so, what is the process to extend my B-2 visitor status?
Answer: If you cannot leave the U.S. before your period of authorized stay expires, you may apply to extend your B-2 visitor status. However, to do so, you must submit the correct form and all required evidence. You must also file your application to extend your stay before your six-month authorized period expires.
What is a B-1/B-2 Visa?
The B-1/B-2 visa is a temporary visa that allows its holder to travel to the U.S. for either business or tourism. When you enter the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will decide how long you are able to remain in the U.S. Usually, Customs will allow you to stay in the U.S. for 180 days (six months).
Extending a B-1/B-2 Visa
If you overstay your visa without extending your period of authorized stay, you will begin accruing unlawful presence and your visa will be canceled. If you stay in the U.S. too long, you may face a three-year or ten-year ban from entering the country.
To ensure that you do not accrue any unauthorized time in the U.S., before your authorized time expires, you should apply to extend your visitor status. To apply to extend your visitor status in the U.S., you must submit Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) and all relevant supporting documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Supporting Evidence to Submit with Form I-539
When you submit form I-539 to USCIS to extend your nonimmigrant status, you must include the following supporting evidence:
- Copies of your passport, the visa you used to enter the U.S., and your Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record).
- Evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses for the six-month period of your extension. To fulfill this requirement, you should submit at least three months’ worth of bank statements showing that you have sufficient funds.
- Evidence demonstrating that you plan to return to your home country, including proof of ownership of real estate in your home country, proof of accounts or other assets in your home country, a letter from your employer stating that you can return to your job when you go back home, and evidence of any relatives still residing in your home country.
- A copy of your return plane ticket to prove that you have a definite plan to leave the U.S.
ImmiFree.Law is The Harrison Law Firm P.C.’s online platform to make the family immigration and naturalization process more efficient, accurate, and affordable. Baya Harrison, Esq. is an attorney licensed in New York, Florida, and California. Attorney Harrison has helped numerous individuals and families navigate the U.S. immigration process, specifically family-based petitions and naturalization.