How To Stay Beyond Your Visa Expiry

Many people who visit the United States on a non-immigrant visa wish to extend their stay beyond the period of time for which they have been authorized. However, staying beyond your visa limits without prior approval can have serious consequences and may even prevent you from receiving authorization to reenter the U.S. at a later date.

Persons holding a non-immigrant visa who wish to extend their visit should file an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539) with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) at least 45 days before the date their visa is set to expire.

Eligibility to Extend Nonimmigrant Visa

Only certain people are eligible to apply for an extension to a non-immigrant visa, including those who:

  • Entered the U.S. lawfully with a nonimmigrant visa
  • Hold current valid nonimmigrant visa status
  • Committed no crimes to become ineligible for a visa
  • Have not violated visa admission conditions
  • Hold a valid passport that will not expire during the proposed extension period

If you wish to extend your stay but do not qualify for extension based on the above criteria, you may wish to speak with a U.S. CIS agent to explore your options.

Overstaying Your Visa

If you overstay the date on your Arrival-Departure record, your visa status will expire and you will be classified as out-of-status. As a result, you may be ineligible to reapply for a visa in the future and therefore you may not be allowed to return to the United States. If you wish to stay in the country longer than your visa allows, it is important to plan accordingly and follow all immigration laws to prevent penalties or deportation.


Guest Post Author

James Witherspoon
Austin immigration attorneys

3 thoughts on “How To Stay Beyond Your Visa Expiry

  1. Hi CJ/James,

    Firstly, thanks for creating such a fantastic site, CJ.

    Myself (E3 visa) and my wife (J1 visa) are currently working in the US. We plan to finish our jobs in mid-June, and then travel within the US for approx 6 1/2 months until late December. During these 6 1/2 months, we also plan to temporarily exit the US twice for side trips to other countries.

    For our post-work time as visitors in the US, I’m wondering what you think the best visa option might be:
    1. I-539
    2. VWP
    3. B2 visa

    1. Would changing from E3/J1 status to B2 status be possible?
    2. If so, what would happen after we exit the US on the first side trip, then attempt to re-enter the US… we’d need to enter on the VWP or with new visitor visas anyway, right?

    1. Do you see any potential problems with entering on the VWP if we:
    a) exit the US to Canada within 10 days of finishing our jobs (per requirements of E3 visa), then attempt to re-enter the US as visitors
    b) exit the US to Ecuador in July, then return to the US as visitors
    c) exit the US to Canada in September, then return to the US as visitors

    My main concerns are that 1a might raise questions about whether we intend to seek work again in the US (we do not, but not sure how to prove that!), and 1b/1c will be our 2nd/3rd entries on the VWP within a relatively short period of time.

    B2 visa:
    1. Is it possible to apply for B2 visitor visas from within the US while on E3/J1 work visas?
    2. Would the approval of B2 visas immediately void our E3/J1 work visas?
    3. Is it possible to specify a “start date” for a B2 visa?
    4. Is the B2 a multiple entry visa?
    5. Can Australian citizens possibly be granted a B2 visa valid for a period greater than 6 months? (We need about 6 1/2 months 🙂

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. My daughter has an international internship with Disney for 6 months with the option of another six months. Her current work (first 6 months) expires on 21Jan16 and she has to be out of the US by 21FEB16. If she accepts the next 6 months they extend her visa for her. If she decided to decline their offer and enrol in a course for 4 weeks (which commences on 1FEB16 and finishes on 28FEB16) how does she extend the visa herself and what type of visa would she need? It would be a 4 week course in the US with an option of a 2 or 3 month practical experience after the course. Can she extend this herself for another 6 months or does she have to leave the country? Does the company she does the course through do this for her? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks Janelle 🙂

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