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How visitors under a visa can file to extend their stays

Foreign visitors to the state of California and across the United States, whether visiting under a study or work program, have the option of trying to extend their stay in the country. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, foreign visitors who seek to extend their stay can file a document to prolong their stay past the termination date of their original program.

Whether a person is a visitor under a F, J, M or H visa, the individual must fill out an I-539 application and send it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This application is to be filled out whether a visitor wishes to continue under the current program used to enter the United States, or if the individual wishes to change to another nonimmigrant status. A fee of $370 is also required along with the application.

An I-539 should also be filed no later than 45 days before the visitor is originally scheduled to depart the country. However, the I-359 form lists a number of ways an applicant may be excused from applying before the application date. An applicant can show that the delay in filing was because of extraordinary events beyond the control of the applicant. Additionally, an applicant's tardiness may be excused due to:

  • Not violating his or her status
  • Not being involved in any removal proceeding
  • Still being a nonimmigrant
  • The delay being reasonable

In short, the possibility exists for a visitor under a work or study program to stay in the United States for an additional period of time, provided the right paperwork is filed and in the right timeframe. Still, the U.S. government will grant extensions even if the paperwork is delayed, assuming the applicant has proper reasons for doing so.

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16255 Ventura Blvd. Suite 1000
Encino, CA 91436

Phone: 818-602-4527
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