Visitor Visa Extensions in the US

Many foreign nationals are here in the United States with a visitor visa (also known as tourist visa). But, due to Covid-19, many home-countries have refused all international flights back. What is a visitor visa holder to do in such a situation?

B1/B2 Visitor Visa Extensions

Let’s begin with what a visitor/tourist visa (B1/B2 visa) is. A visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows a foreigner to travel to the US and temporarily visit; it may be for leisure purposes and/or business purposes. The foreigner is granted this visa and agrees to the terms and conditions that include, but is not limited to, staying temporarily in the US, not accepting employment or work in the US, and returning home once the visa ends. However, there may be unforeseen circumstances where a person is unable to return on or before the expiration. One of the most common reasons that home countries are not open to accepting people back is due to a surge in infections of Covid-19. Many people are stuck in the US right now for this reason. Whatever the situation may be, we will address how to file an extension.

Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

Once the foreign national knows that they are unable to leave the US, that individual should immediately file for an extension by completing form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. In the application, the applicant will explain their reason for needing to extend their visit. The applicant will give a written explanation to USCIS and submit supporting documentation to back up their claim. Supporting documentation may include medical records from physicians, itinerary for a business, or any other notes to back up the request for extension.

Proof of Enough Funding

In addition the applicant will have to prove they have enough funding to support themselves during their stay. USCIS may request personal bank statements or other financial documents. In the financial documents, USCIS will be making sure the person has enough funds to support themselves for at least the next 6 months. If a person is unable to provide financial support documents, then a guarantor may submit an affidavit. The guarantor should be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident stating that they will be financially responsible for the foreign visitor and they also guarantee that the visitor will return home once the extension expires.

Fingerprinting and Background Check

Once everything has been submitted the applicant will receive a receipt and notice for fingerprinting. Fingerprints must be completed for the application to proceed. If the applicant misses the appointment, then the application may be denied. A background check will be conducted and if the applicant is clear from any criminal background then the application for extension may be granted.

If you or someone you know is interested in filing an extension, they should contact an immigration attorney to discuss the procedures for their specific situation, as all cases are different. Hwang Law Group may be based in Las Vegas, Nevada, but our experienced immigration attorney is capable of assisting anyone, anywhere regarding their immigration concerns. Reach out today.