Extending an Expiring Visa

If you are staying in the US with a visa, it is essential that you understand what limitations this has as well as any expiration dates that are set. Failure to understand how your visa works could result in severe repercussions to your status in the US and your ability to acquire visas in the future. In this article, we will discuss what extending an expiring visa means and other options you may have if your visa expires soon.

Visa Extension Vs. Visa Status Change

If you are staying in the US with a visa, you need to understand that this has an expiration date. You will have both an expiration date and a visa assurance date, which creates visa validity. The visa validity is the length of time that you can travel to an area of entry in the United States.

Failure to understand your visa validity could result in your not being able to enter the US, or your visa may be avoided or canceled.

If your visa expires, you may have several options: visa extension, adjustment of status, or visa status change. Here is exactly what these options are and what they require you to do.

Visa Extension

A visa extension is a temporary extension that allows you to stay in the US beyond the duration your visa originally granted you. To do this, you have to submit form I-539 at least 45 days before your visa expires. On average, it takes the US citizenship and immigration services 3 to 5 months to decide on an extension.

Visa Status Change

On the other hand, a change of status allows you to switch from your non-immigrant visa category to a different category without having to leave the US. To do this, you have to submit the same form I-539 to the USCIS.

Not every non-immigrant visa category is eligible for changing the status. Because of this, it may be helpful to hire an immigration attorney to help you decipher what your options are. You will also be required to pay a new visa issuance fee if your application for a change of status is approved.

Adjustment of Status

Another option that is often lumped into this category of visa changes is an adjustment of status. However, this is in a very different class since it involves someone in the US who is not a US citizen. They may be in a non-immigrant status or be residing in the US illegally.

An adjustment of status allows them the option of becoming a lawful permanent resident through obtaining a green card. Because of this, getting an adjustment of status is much more complex and time-intensive.

What Happens if Your Visa Expires?

Your legal status is often dependent on your visa, especially when you have an expiration date. If you plan on extending or changing the status of your visa, you need to stay in the legal status for this to be accepted.

If you have a lapse in lawful status because your visa expired, this will result in an unlawful presence. This can have severe repercussions and drastically impact your ability to get visas or enter the US in the future.

Someone who is unlawfully in the US is subject to arrest and deportation, depending on the situation.

What You Need to Know About Visa Changes

Any type of change to your visa can have long-term implications depending on the path you take and your end goal. An example of this is the potential impact that changing your visa can have if you do this too frequently. Frequently extending your stay or changing your visa status could bring your non-immigrant visa into question regarding permanent residency outside of the US.

Another important detail you need to understand if you are trying to change the status of your visa or apply for an extension is the pending time. It can take several months for a decision to be made, which leaves your visa in a pending status. The good news is that you are allowed to stay in the US during this time, even if your visa expires.

In this situation, the government can allow an authorized period of stay until a decision has been made on your application. You can also continue to work in a previously authorized position for up to 240 days while your request is pending.

It’s also worth mentioning that indefinite validity visas, which are tourist and business visas, became completely void as of 2004. If you have an indefinite validity visa, you will need to apply for a new visa if you plan on traveling to the US.

What to Do If Your Visa Is Expiring

If you are using a non-immigrant visa, you need to understand the details of this visa and when it expires. It’s your responsibility to understand these details to ensure you are using your visa legally and do not run into any issues.

If your visa is expiring soon, you will want to act as quickly as possible to get either a change of status or an extension. You will need to do this at least 1 1/2 to 2 months in advance before your visa expires. There will also be a wait time as your application is pending, but this will not negatively impact your visa status as long as you have submitted the application.

It’s recommended to hire an immigration lawyer to help guide you through this process and ensure you have submitted your application correctly. They can help you process different documentation and submit your application in a timely manner. If any issues come up with your application approval, they can also help advise you on your rights and other paths to take.

Contact an Expert Immigration Attorney Today

Do you need help extending an expiring visa? Contact us today at US Immigration Law Counsel by filling out our online form or calling us directly at 800-666-4996. Our immigration attorneys deal with the government, so you don’t have to and can ensure a stress-free visa extension process.

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