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B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa Extensions

Many people who have either a B1 visa or a B2 visa may want to extend those visas. People with other
types of visas may seek to change their status to a B1 visa or a B-2 visa. These extensions and status
changes are becoming even more desirable and even necessary to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Reasons for obtaining a B-1 visa

 

  1. A B-1 Temporary Business Visitor, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, is the legal document/right to participate in “business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States, including, but not limited to the following:

  2. Consulting with business associates

  3. Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates

  4. Settling an estate

  5. Negotiating a contract

  6. Participating in short-term training

  7. Transiting through the United States: certain persons may transit the United States with a B-1 visa

  8. Deadheading: certain air crewmen may enter the United States as deadhead crew with a B-1 visa

  9. B-2 Visa on a USA flag background, 3D rendering.

 


Reasons for obtaining a B-2 visa


A B-2, according to Visa Guide World, is necessary for people who just want to visit the United States for
purposes of tourism (seeing the sights), educational, or for medical treatments. Some of the approved
activities that can be done in America with a B-2 visa include:

 

  1. Having a US vacation

  2. Touring the various American cities

  3. Spending time with family and friends

  4. Participating in different types of organizational or social activities

  5. Obtaining medical treatment from American hospitals or physicians

  6. Participating in amateur sports or musical activities or contests

  7. Enrolling ins courses of study which will not result in credit – such as a cooking class


One major difference between B2 visas and other types of visas is that there is no cap on the number
that can be distributed in any year. If you qualify and meet the formal requirements, then you or
someone you are helping can obtain a B2 visa.

Some foreign countries are denying reentry by people coming from America. Just flying on long trips is
scary and dangerous. Some people have student visas (or work visas), which are expiring, and they can’t
stay, but don’t want to leave right away. They can submit a change of status application to B1/B2.


What are the B1 and B2 visa time limits?


Both B1 and B2 visas are non-immigrant visas which means the holders of these visas can only stay in
the United States for a short time. Generally, according to Avvo, a visa sticker is placed on your passport
by the US embassy. The date of the sticker indicates how much time (for example up to 5 years) you
have to use the visa.

Once you arrive at an airport (or other port of entry), the immigration officer will review your passport
and visa to determine if you can enter America. If entry is approved, you will be given an entry stamp
(also called an I-94 stamp) which shows the entry date, your immigration status, and when you must
leave (the expiration date). Generally, B1 and B2 visas permit the holder to stay in American between six
months and one year.

If your passport doesn’t have an entry stamp, you need to go to the Customs and Border Protection
website and “click on “Get Most Recent I-94,” and follow through with the prompts.

Form I-539


What are the basic factors for extending your B1 or B2 visa status?

 

Using Form, I-539


The basic way to extend your B1/B2 visitor visa is by filing out Form I-539.

Some of the key Form I-539 requirements include:

Filing the I-539 form BEFORE your status expires. It’s generally advisable to consult with an experienced
immigration lawyer who understands the I-539 filing requirements. B1 and B2 visa holders should seek
help or file the I-539 form at least 45 days before their current visa expiration date.

Filers need to explain why they need the extension. The more detailed the explanation is, the better.


Holders of visitor visas should provide clear information about how they will cover their daily expenses
during the extension period such as meals and lodgings.


Filers must show they’ve “already made some arrangements to depart from the U.S. on or before the
new extension date”. Examples include confirmation of airline ticket purchases and arrangements with
the employer in your home country.


B1 and B2 visa holders must also explain why the continued American stay wouldn’t negatively impact
their home country’s employment status. For example, a letter from your employer confirming
permission to stay can help.


Pay the filing fee which is about $370


According to Nova Credit, some additional information to keep in mind when completing Form, I-539 is:

If the question doesn’t apply to you – you can write “N/A.”


If the question requires a numerical answer, none may be an acceptable reply.


Use must sign Form I-539 (if you’re not using an online form) with black ink. “Typewritten or stamped
signatures typically aren’t accepted. Applicants under the age of 14 may have their parent or legal
guardian sign on their behalf.”


A biometric services appointment may be required. This appointment requires that you be
fingerprinted, photographed, and provide your signature – to confirm your identity.


Supporting documents should be readable photocopies – unless the USCIS asks for originals.


“If any information is written in a language other than English, you must include a certified English
translation to confirm that the translation is complete and accurate.”


In some cases, you may be able to file the Form I-539 extension request after your B1/B2 visa expiration
date if you can verify:

There are extraordinary circumstances that couldn’t be helped – such as the need to be hospitalized to
treat severe injuries or a sudden illness.


The length of the delay must match the reason. If you were in the hospital just a few days, you can’t wait
months to ask for the extension.


You must verify that you are not “in removal proceedings.”


You must “explain that you did not violate your nonimmigrant status (e.g., by engaging in unauthorized
employment).”


Generally, it’s never wise to wait until your visa has expired to apply for an extension. US consular
officers will look with skepticism on any overdue extension request.

Changing Passport


What are the basic factors for changing your B1 or B2 visa status?


In addition to seeking an extension, Form I-539 can be used to change your status. Either you (or in
some cases, your employer) can request the extension.

According to the USCIS, the eligibility requirements to change your nonimmigrant status are as follows:

  • You must currently be in American with a non-immigrant visa.

  • Your nonimmigrant status must stay valid.

  • You can’t violate any conditions of your status.

  • You can’t commit any crimes that would make you ineligible.

You should be able to see your current authorized status and your expiration date “in the lower right
corner of your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.” Your right to file for a status change and how you
file for a status change depends on your current nonimmigrant status.

Filling electronic form on internet with laptop


How do you file for an extension or change of nonimmigrant status?


Again, the best course of action is to speak with a skilled immigration lawyer. He’ll explain your rights,
your options, and guide you through the stage of the change or extension process.

  1. You can create a USCIS online account to file online and:

  2. Submit evidence and pay fees electronically.

  3. Receive notices from us electronically!

  4. Receive case status updates about your case and see the complete case history.

  5. Communicate with us securely and directly; and

  6. Respond to requests for evidence.


You can file by paper. You’ll need to:

Follow the instructions –

  1. Fill out and sign the I-539 form!

  2. Pay the fees for filing and, if applicable, the biometric fees

  3. Provide the necessary evidence and supporting documents

The USCIS has absolute discretion on whether they allow you to extend or change your nonimmigrant
status. So, the more evidence you have and the more the reasons for the request are related to strong
B1 or B2 purposes, the better. One bit of good news is that generally, the filing of the completed I-539
request extends your stay while the decision on its merits is pending???

If your request to change or extend your status is denied, then you will need to immediately leave the
United States. From your home country, you can explore your future visa options. If you stay in the US
for 180 days or more beyond your B1/B2 expiration date, you may be barred from applying for new
immigration or visa status for many years.


What types of evidence can help with your B1/B2 extension request?


Some of the types of explanations, which you’ll need to document, that can help persuade the consular
officers to grant an extension include:

Medical documentation. This is becoming increasingly important during the pandemic. If you contract
the disease, then there are specific medical protocols that you must follow. You may even be forced to
be quarantined. If you have COVID-19, you may be barred from traveling. It helps to have the
documentation (laws, regulations, orders, etc.) that confirm that you’re not allowed to fly or travel.


Letters from relatives if the relatives have special medical needs and you’re uniquely able to provide
them assistance if you stay.


Bank accounts and pay stubs showing you can support yourself during the extended stay.


“A letter from your foreign employer stating that he or she is aware of your extended absence and that
you will retain your position once you return.”


Some of the key factors to consider are:

You should file your Form I-539 online because many of the physical USCIS physical branches, according
to Stilt (an immigration financial service company) may be temporarily closed.

You must attach a statement/ letter explaining the reasons for the extension. An example would be that
your home country has closed its borders due to COVID-19 – which means you cannot return to your
home country until the restrictions are lifted.


You should consider the timing of when you book tickets for your return. The tickets should help
convince USCIS of your intent to return – but the tickets should be for a time when lockdown from your
home country is likely to be lifted.


The application filing fee is $370. The biometric fee is $85. Then you are allowed to enter the USA.


What types of evidence can help with your B1/B2 change request?


If you are seeking to change your status to a B1 or B2 visa, you must do more than submit Form I-539.
You must show you meet the eligibility requirements for B1 or B2 visa approval. You’ll need to submit
documentation to show that you are eligible.

You generally cannot request a change in your nonimmigrant visa to a B1 or B2 if you entered America
through the Visa Wavier Program (VWP). A VWP stay also cannot be extended unless there is an
emergency, you’ll need to contact the USCIS Contact Center for help in granting you some additional
time – normally, 30 days or less.

Travelers must have a valid ESTA approval and must meet certain requirements prior to travel.

Businessman at airport looking at airplane taking off


Additional considerations


If you do apply for a visa extension or change through Form I-539 – and your request is denied, your visa
may become void which will require you to leave immediately – even if the date on your I-94 hasn’t yet
passed.

We are here to help.

To learn more about your potential legal options, have questions or to schedule a consultations contact us today – it’s free and strictly confidential.

(770) 936-3991
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