B-2 Visas: Duration of Stay and Extension of Stay

The duration of your stay in the United States is decided by the inspecting Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer at the time of your entry into the U.S. based upon your stated purpose for entering the country. You may be granted a duration of stay up to a period of one year (8 CFR § 214.2(b)(1)). The majority of approved visits are authorized for shorter periods between 6 months and one year, however.

The time authorized for your duration of stay will be indicated on the departure portion of Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, which is returned to you along with your stamped passport after you have been authorized to enter the U.S. by the inspecting CBP officer.

Any B-2 visitor, who is found admissible to the U.S. and has been issued the departure section of their Form I-94, will be granted a duration of stay for a minimum of 6 months regardless of the amount of time requested. Exceptions are rarely made to the 6 month minimum rule on a case-by-case basis (8 CFR § 214.2(b)(2)) (OI § 214.2(b)).

If you are required to stay in the United States beyond the period authorized on your Form I-94 to complete the business related tasks that were the purpose of your temporary visit, you may obtain an extension of stay. Extensions of stay can be granted in increments of up to six months (8 CFR § 214.2(b)(1)).

You must depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to remain in the U.S. as specified on your Form I-94. Failure to do so will result in being out-of-status, which may cause you to be ineligible to receive a visa to enter the U.S. in the future.

If you wish to secure an extension of stay you will be required to submit Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, along with the relevant supporting documents, to USCIS. You can find the Form I-539 Instructions and the form itself on the USCIS site. USCIS suggests that you file Form I-539 at least 45 days before your duration of stay expires. The following should be submitted alongside your Form I-539:

  • your original Form I-94;
  • a description of your means of financial support while visiting the United States (include any relevant documentary evidence, such as bank or financial records); and
  • a written statement explain the following in detail:
    • the reasons for your request,
    • why your extended stay would be temporary, including what arrangements you have made to depart from the U.S., and
    • any effect the extended stay may have on your foreign employment or residency. For example, you may want to explain how you can be absent from your job for such a long period of time.
  • A check or money order for the $290 filing fee for Form I-539 should also be submitted. The following guidelines must be met when preparing the check or money order:
    • The check or money order must be drawn on a bank or other financial institution located in the United States and must be payable in U.S. currency; and
    • The check should be made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Further, you must maintain a valid passport for the duration of your nonimmigrant stay in the U.S. If your required passport is not valid at the time you submit Form I-539, you will be required to submit a written explanation along with Form I-539.

Failure to complete all the information on Form I-539 or to send all of the necessary supporting documents may result in your request for extension being delayed or denied. As there is no appeal for denial of such an extension, it is very important that you provide all the necessary information.

Your Form I-539 can either be submitted via E-filing or filed by mail. If you choose to e-file, you will be required to mail all of your supporting documents to the appropriate receiving location indicated on your e-filing receipt. It is important to note the specific receiving location on your e-filing receipt for this specific reason, and to know to which address you should direct any other future communication.

If you are submitting Form I-539 and the supporting documents by mail, you will need to address them as follows:

For US Postal Service deliveries:

    P.O. Box 660166
    Dallas, TX 75266

    For Express mail and commercial courier deliveries:

    ATTN: I-539
    2501 S. State Highway 121 Business Ste 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067


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