Extending B-1 and B-2 Visas.

Frequently, holders of B-1 and B-2 visitor visas ask my assistance in requesting extensions of their visas, usually for an extra six months. Often, however, it takes the USCIS at least that long to make a decision on the application (the I-539), leaving the applicant wondering whether he or she must depart the U.S. so as not to incur any period of unlawful presence.

The Vermont Service Center has now issued some guidance on this very issue. It has stated that it will adjudicate an approvable extension application to the date of approval, plus one day, where the adjudication takes place after the requested extension date has been reached – but only if the requested date was for a period of no more than 6 months.

Unfortunately, even this assurance still exposes an applicant to being unlawfully present.

To be absolutely safe, a B-1 B-2 extension applicant should depart the United States prior to adjudication on the extension application. Alternatively, the applicant should file a second I-539 and include a copy of the receipt notice of the first, still-pending extension application. If the applicant files for this 2nd extension, he or she should also provide a good explanation as to why they will not be able to depart within the original time requested and they should provide written documentation to support their claim.

If you have any questions about your B-1 or B-2 Visa or a question about some other immigraton matter, call my office at 616-233-9300 or email me at rfmirque@mirquelaw.com 

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