Extending your B-2 visa
An alien with a valid visa can temporarily enter the United States for a specific purpose such as business, study, or pleasure. An alien, who wishes to enter the United States for a temporary period for pleasure, may apply for a B-2 visa at the United States embassy in his or her home country.
An individual granted a B-2 temporary visa to travel to the United States for pleasure can enjoy activities of a recreational nature in the United States which include: tourist activities; visits with friends and relatives; rest and relaxation; brief medical treatment; and also participation in unpaid amateur musical or sporting events. However, an alien who enters the United States on a B-2 visa cannot accept employment for remuneration even where the only payment or fee is provided as room, board or pocket change.
After the alien lands in the United States, an immigration officer will examine his or her passport and B-2 visa. The passport must be valid for a minimum of six (6) months beyond the expiration of the anticipated length of stay in the United States. In addition, the alien must also agree to depart the United States on the date stamped by the immigration officer on the Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record).
In the event that the visitor fails to comply with the due date of departure, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) has the authority to place him or her in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
Therefore, it is always advisable that should a B-2 visa holder wish to extend his temporary stay in the United States for pleasure, he must apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status) prior to the expiration of his authorized stay in the United States, as stamped on his Form I-94. The alien’s passport must also be valid and unexpired at the time of making the application to extend his or her temporary stay.
To be eligible to apply for an extension of stay, a visitor already in the United States must establish that he or she: (1) was lawfully admitted to the United States with a valid non-immigrant visa; (2) the authorized stay granted by the immigration officer remains unexpired; (3) the passport is valid and unexpired; and (4) during the period of his or her temporary stay in the United States, the alien has not committed any crimes that would make him or her ineligible to apply for an extension.
It should be noted that there are some aliens who are ineligible under the law to apply for an extension of their temporary stay in the United States. These aliens include anyone who entered the United States on a visa waiver program; as a crewman; in transit or in transit without a visa; as a fiancé of a United States citizen or dependent of a fiancé; or as an informant on terrorism or organized crime.
For the B-2 visa holder however, the application to extend his temporary stay in the United States is filed on Form I-539. Form I-539 requires the non-immigrant applicant to provide information of the applicant’s personal history; the number of family members being included in the application, if any; passport information; foreign address; whether any applications or petitions for permanent residence were ever filed on the applicant’s behalf; whether the applicant was employed during his temporary stay; the means by which the applicant intends to support himself in the United States if an extension of stay is granted; and details of any arrest history.
Form I-539 is submitted to USCIS along with a filing fee paid by way of check or money order in the sum of $195.00. The B-2 visa holder must also include his or her original Form I-94 with the application, along with two (2) passport-sized photographs.
In addition, the alien should include supporting evidence to satisfy USCIS that an extension of stay is warranted. Such supporting evidence may include a signed and notarized statement by the visitor to USCIS explaining why he or she is seeking an extension of stay. It is also advisable for the non-immigrant applicant to have a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident relative or friend provide documentary evidence that they are willing to host the B-2 visa holder in the United States should USCIS grant the application for an extension of stay.
Such documentary evidence would demonstrate that the United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident relative or friend has the means to support the B-2 visa holder during the period of extended stay in the United States. The evidence from the relative or friend should include an Affidavit of Support; job letter; pay stubs; tax returns with W-2 Forms; and a bank letter.
As always, it is recommended that prior to mailing any applications to USCIS by certified mail/return receipt requested, the applicant should keep a copy of the complete application for his or her personal records.
Should USCIS approve the application for the extension of stay, the applicant receives a new Form I-94 with a new extended date for departure from the United States. Enjoy your extended holiday but remember to leave the United States before the new date of departure.