Do you require a longer stay in the United States but are on a temporary visa? A lot of visas provide this option, but you must exercise extreme caution to extend or alter your status before your permitted stay expires. If you don’t act now, you risk accruing unlawful presence, which, barring a waiver, might make it impossible for you to get a visa in the future.

You should be aware that you might not be able to prolong your status if:

  • You are ineligible for an extension because you committed a crime.
  • You’ve broken one or more of the prerequisites for your status.
  • You have a K, C, D, or S nonimmigrant visa; thus, you are here.
  • With no visa, you are passing through the United States.

The examples listed above are not all-inclusive and may or may not apply to your circumstance. Fortunately, you can prolong your stay despite the President’s immigration ban. The prohibition often applies to people who seek visas from overseas. Theoretically, you ought to be able to extend or change your status without issue if you are already lawfully present in the United States and satisfy all other requirements.

USCIS advises filing a request to extend your stay no later than 45 days before your present status expires. A nonimmigrant’s status can be prolonged or changed using Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. 

Please be aware that we typically advise hiring legal counsel to assist with this extension request. Depending on your specific situation, this family immigration attorney may include writing a cover letter that makes legal arguments, helping you gather the required paperwork, assembling forms and packets, and submitting the complete application with exhibits. To become a lawful permanent resident, you must go through the “adjustment of status” procedure, which is distinct from “changing nonimmigrant status.”

The COVID-19 Challenges

The USCIS asserts that many nonimmigrants should be able to avoid accumulating unlawful presence by merely extending their stay or changing their status. The majority (if not all) of the application processing is now done online, notwithstanding office closures and other related inconveniences.

Additionally, USCIS notes that if non-immigrants submit their request for a stay extension on time, they often won’t incur any illegal presence (i.e. 45 days prior to their authorised stay expires). In other words, if your application is still pending when your granted stay expires, you won’t be seen as violating the law.


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