Extend your B1 visa
Admission into the United States in B-1 visa status is usually granted for up to 6 months to individuals travelling for a short-term, business-related stay. It may, however, be possible for you to submit an application to USCIS while you’re in the USA to extend your US B1 visa stay for a further maximum of 6 months.
To make an extension application, you will have to meet similar USCIS requirements as with your initial B-1 visa application relating to the nature of your activity during the period of extension and evidencing your intention to leave. Specific rules apply to the timing of when you should make an extension application to avoid becoming out of status while in the US.
B1 visa extension requirements
There are a number of eligibility criteria you will need to meet to make a successful extension application.
Your extension application will need to show the following:
- You were lawfully admitted to the US on a nonimmigrant visa e.g. on a valid B-1 visa.
- Your immigration status remains valid.
- Your passport is valid and will be valid for any extended visa period.
- You have not breached any conditions of your stay or admission, or committed a crime.
It will not be possible to apply to extend your stay if you entered the US under the visa waiver program, a D, K or S nonimmigrant visa, in transit through a C nonimmigrant visa, in transit without a visa (TWOV).
In addition, you should also consider how you will prove that:
- Your reasons for wanting to extend your temporary stay meet the B-1 visa category permissible activities.
- You have the intention to leave the US at the end of the extended stay.
- You can financially support yourself during the extended stay.
How to extend your B-1 visa
To make your application, you have to file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status, to request the extension of your I-94 form. Importantly, you must file this document before your current visa validity period expires. Staying in the US beyond your authorized stay can result in removal from the country and potentially being barred for future entry into the US.
When should you apply to extend your B1 visa?
The main requirement is to complete and file form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status, before your authorization expires.
The exact date of your admission expiry can be found on your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. Note that the date of your admission expiry is not your visa expiry date.
USCIS must receive your application by the day your authorization expires. It is helpful to apply in advance; USCIS suggests 45 days before your authorized stay expires.
Processing can take a number of months, so provided you have filed your extension application, if your visa status has expired, you are permitted a ‘grace period’ to remain in the US lawfully for up to 240 days from your I-94 date while your application is being processed.
Conversely, it is not advisable to apply for an extension immediately after arriving into USA; it might be considered by USCIS to be a pre-planned act, which could impact the credibility and authenticity of your application.
It is also important to note that B-1 visas are generally issued by the American Embassy for a term of 10 years, with permission granted by Customs and Border Protection for a visit of up to six months (plus six months extension). You cannot visit Mexico or Cuba within your 6 month B-1 visit and re-enter the US to ‘reset’ your 6 month permission.
What supporting documents will you need to provide?
To extend your stay or change your status, you will need to show:
- Completed I-539 form – printed, signed and dated.
- Written statement detailing your reason(s) for extending your stay.
- Evidence of how you will financially be supported during your extended stay.
- Return tickets – either a copy of your return tickets as a proof of your temporary stay intentions or details of the flight you intend to travel on after the extended stay.
- Copy of I-94 Form of each applicant’s I-94 Form – you must retain the original.
- Letter or an Affidavit of Support from a US friend or relative.
- Documents showing that you have permanent property or residence abroad.
- Letter from your non-US based employer confirming they are aware of the extended absence and that you will retain your position once you return.
You will be issued a case number once USCIS receive your application. Use this reference to check the progress of your case through the USCIS website
If USCIS approve your extension application, you will be issued an updated, current I-94 with a new departure date, which is the date you can now remain in the US until.
Remember also to keep a copy of the extension approval letter for your own records, as you will need to provide it for future US applications and travel.
You will be notified in writing if your application is denied or rejected. The letter will detail the grounds for refusal. You must leave the US by your admission expiry date or, if your visa has already expired, you are generally given 30 days to depart the US, starting from the date on the letter notifying you of the decision to deny.
If you do not depart within 30 days, you will be considered an over-stayer and as such, become deportable. You may encounter issues with future USCIS applications and attempts to enter the US.
Retain your rejection letter and proof of the date of your departure (eg a boarding pass) to give to the consulate the next time you apply for a new US visa.
What happens if you stay beyond your I-94 date?
Staying in the US past your visa expiry is likely to have consequences; you may even be deported and if you remain in the US for 180 days or more after your B status expires, you may be barred from applying for future immigration status.
The exception would be where you can show you have made an application to extend your B-1 while ‘out of status’ due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ that directly caused the delay in your application. You must evidence that these circumstances were beyond your control and that you made the application as soon as you were able to, certainly within a reasonable timeframe in the specific circumstances.
Examples could include losing or theft of your passport, medical or health emergencies, issues with a previous extension application -perhaps you paid an incorrect fee, or information was missing).
If you are unable to meet the requirements for extraordinary circumstances, and are looking to make an out of status application, you should take professional advice.
While the substantive requirements are generally the same as with the initial B-1 visa application, it will be important to ensure you meet the timing-requirements of applying for an extension to avoid any issues with overstaying or becoming out of status. This is particularly important where you rely on for work or business related travel to the US.
If you have a question about the B-1 visa, please contact us for advice.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.