Extension of Status (How to Apply, Requirements & Fees)

Extension of Status

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Last updated: April 10, 2024.

To avoid being placed in removal proceedings and being deported from the U.S., foreign nationals must maintain legal immigration status at all times.

Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, is a form created by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) upon admission to the U.S. showing the date of admission, class of admission, and admitted-until date. 

To find the length of time you can legally remain in the U.S. you can check your I-94 form online.

It’s important to understand the difference between the time you are allowed to stay in the U.S. and your visa expiration date.

  • The admissions stamp in your passport (Form I-94) shows how long you are permitted to remain in the U.S.;
  • Your nonimmigrant visa only shows when and how many times you may seek admission to the U.S. from abroad based on the classification noted on your visa.

Extension of Status

One way of maintaining status is for the person to obtain an extension that keeps the applicant  in the same status. 

Extension of status is different from a change of status, which is a request to change one nonimmigrant classification to another, or an “adjustment of status,” which is a transition from nonimmigrant status to permanent resident status.

A person must apply for his or her extension of status request in a timely manner.

The extension of status application must be filed with USCIS while he or she is still maintaining their status and within the time period under his or her authorized stay.

A person may be eligible for extension of status even if he or she has fallen

out of status, through the process known as “Reinstatement of status”.

This is a discretionary determination by U.S. Citizenship and

Immigration Services (USCIS) that the failure to maintain status was due to “extraordinary circumstances beyond [the nonimmigrant’s] control”.

Moreover, there can be no other immigration violations of status.

Alternatively, a reinstatement can be possible if the violation was minor, excusable, and otherwise would result in extreme hardship.

In general, an applicant will not receive an extension of status if he or she has violated the terms of their nonimmigrant status.

An example of a common violation is unauthorized employment.

A person placed in removal proceedings will not be eligible for an extension of status.

The immigration judge (IJ) does not have authority to grant such extensions. 

Each visa has its own rules and requirements and restrictions.

How to Apply for Extension of Status

You must submit an application for an extension of stay before the expiration date on your Form I-94

USCIS suggests applying for extension of status at least 45 days before your stay expires.

Your passport must be valid for your entire requested period of stay in the U.S.

There are very limited circumstances under which USCIS will excuse a late submission.

We strongly recommend filing the extension of status as early as possible to avoid visa overstay which is considered a serious immigration violation.

Overstaying your visa can lead to a 3-year or 10-year ban to the U.S. and you can be placed in deportation proceedings.

The application process to extend your status with USCIS depends on your nonimmigrant category:

Nonimmigrant visa

Description of visa

What form to file

A-3

Attendants, Servants,

Personal Employees of

Diplomatic and Other

Government Officials and

Immediate Family

Form I-539

B-1 and B-2

Business and tourist visa

Form I-539

E-1 or E-2 principal (main) visa holders

Treaty Traders, Treaty Investors, and Employees of Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

E-1 and E-2 dependents only

Dependents of Treaty

Traders, Treaty Investors,

and Their Employees (spouses and children under 21)

Form I-539

E-3 principal (main) visa holders

Skilled Professionals from

Australia

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

E-3 dependents only

Dependents of Skilled

Professionals from

Australia (spouses and children under 21)

Form I-539

G-5

Attendants, Servants,

Personal Employees of

Foreign Government

Officials and Immediate

Family)

Form I-539

H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3 principal (main) visa holders

Temporary Skilled or

Unskilled Workers and

Trainees

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

H-4 dependents only

Dependents of Temporary

Skilled or Unskilled

Workers and Trainees (spouses and children under 21)

Form I-539

K-3 and K-4

Spouse of U.S. Citizen

and Minor Child Accompanying/Following

to Join

Form I-539

L-1A or L-1B principal (main) visa holders

Intracompany

Transferees

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

L-2 dependents only

Dependents of

Intracompany Transferees (spouses and children under 21)

Form I-539

M

Vocational Students and

Dependents

Form I-539

N

Parents and Children of Certain People Who Have Been Granted Special Immigrant Status

Form I-539

NATO-7

Attendants, Servants, Personal Employees of NATO Representatives, Officials, Employees and Immediate Family Members

Form I-539

O-1 or O-2 principal (main) visa holders

Aliens with Extraordinary

Ability and Their

Assistants

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

O-3 dependents only

Dependents of Aliens

With Extraordinary Ability

and Their Assistants (spouses and children under 21)

Form I-539

P-1, P-2, or P-3 principal (main) visa holders

Athletes and Entertainers

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

P-4 dependents only 

Dependents of Athletes and Entertainers (spouses and children under 21)

Form I-539

Q-1 principal (main) visa holders

International Cultural

Exchange Visitors

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

R-1 principal (main) visa holders

Religious Workers

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

R-2 dependents only

Dependents of Religious

Workers (spouses and children under 21)

Form I-539

TN-1 or TN-2 principal (main) visa holders

Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

TD dependents only

Dependents of Canadians

and Mexicans under the NAFTA (spouses and children under 21)

Form I-539

All “V”categories

Certain Family-Based Preference Beneficiaries

Form I-539

Important: All family members (spouses and unmarried children under 21) in the same category can be included on one Form I-539

Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) can be filed by mail or online.

Only certain applicants can submit Form I-539 online. 

You can check the online filing eligibility on USCIS Form I-539 page.

If you are not eligible for online filing of Form I-539, then you will need to submit the application to USCIS by mail. The mailing addresses can be found here.

Can I apply for an Extension of Status After My Status Expires?

  • If your stay as shown on your Form I-94, has already expired, USCIS usually will not approve an extension of stay.
  • If you believe compelling unforeseen circumstances beyond your control prevented you from filing on time, explain your unforeseen circumstances in your application and provide the evidence with your application to support your claim. USCIS might approve your extension but it’s not guaranteed.
  • If your stay as shown on your Form I-94 is about to expire, hurry up and make sure you file your application in time for USCIS to receive it before your status expires.
  • If you are concerned about your visa expiring, remember that a visa’s purpose is to let you enter the U.S. Your visa doesn’t control the length of your stay. The period for which you can stay was determined when you were admitted to the U.S. You will usually find that information on the Form I-94 or the CBP entry stamp in your passport.

What Happens if USCIS Will Not Make a Decision Before My Status Expires?

Timely filing Form I-539 will not automatically extend your status.

Your status ends when your Form I-94 expires, even if your Form I-539 is timely registered by USCIS.

If USCIS will make the decision on your Form I-539 after your status expires, USCIS usually will not start any deportation proceedings before your application is reviewed and decision is made.

Despite the fact that you are not in a lawful nonimmigrant status, you will not not accrue “unlawful presence” while your extension of status application is pending if it was filed prior to the expiration of your Form I-94.

That’s why filing Form I-539 in a timely manner is important to avoid violating the immigration laws and risk of being banned from entering the U.S. in the future.

Some nonimmigrant categories may be permitted to continue the previously authorized employment for a maximum period of 240 days while the extension application is pending if:

  • USCIS received I-539 application before Form I-94 expires, and 
  • You have not violated the terms of your nonimmigrant status. 

You may be required to stop working immediately when the first of the following events occurs:

  • 240 days elapses from the date your I-94 expires; or
  • USCIS has made a final decision denying your extension application.

If your application for an extension of stay is approved, then your status while your I-539 application is pending will be considered to have been lawful.

If your application is denied, you may be required to depart the U.S. immediately.

In addition, any nonimmigrant visa in your passport granted in connection with your classification becomes void

Once your visa is void, you must submit any new visa application at a U.S. consulate in your home country.

You can check the current USCIS Form I-539 processing times here.

You can check the status of your I-539 application here.

Form I-539 Filing Fees

Current Form I-539 filing fees:

I-539 Filing Category

Paper Filing Fee

Online Filing Fee

General Filing

$470

$420

If filing into or out of A, G, or NATO nonimmigrant status.

$0

$0

Victims of severe form of trafficking (T nonimmigrants).

$0

$0

Victims of qualifying criminal activity (U nonimmigrants).

$0

$0

Certain applicants may be eligible for a Fee Waiver. Learn more: Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver.

Failure to submit the correct government fee might result in application delays and rejections.

You can also use the USCIS fee calculator to double check the correct fee for your application.

USCIS fees are subject to change. We recommend that you check the latest fee on the USCIS Form I-539 page.

Related Links:

Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

Form I-539 Instructions, How to Fill Out

Form I-539A Instructions, How to Fill Out