Frequently Asked Questions About Extension of Stay

By Scott M. Borene*

1. What is an extension of stay?

A foreign national who is in the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status may be able to apply for an extension of his or her nonimmigrant status if he or she wishes to remain in the U.S. for a longer time. If approved, an extension of stay may allow a person to remain in the U.S. for a longer time than originally authorized by USCIS without the need for a new visa, international travel or an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad.

2. When should someone apply for an extension of stay?

Generally, an individual who is currently in a valid nonimmigrant status should apply for an extension of stay well before the expiration of his or her current authorized period of stay. Extension applicants should get the latest information about processing times for extension of status applications for particular types of nonimmigrant classifications. For example, if the current processing times for extension of a particular nonimmigrant status are 4 months, then a person should apply for an extension of stay at least 4 months prior to the expiration date of his or her current status. In rare cases, late applications are possible.

3. How does one apply for an extension of stay?

An extension of stay application generally involves filing certain forms and supporting documents with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The application requirements are different for different nonimmigrant categories and change often. Applicants should check with an immigration attorney or a reliable government source to confirm the current requirements before filing an extension application. In general, only persons who have been careful to strictly comply with all U.S. immigration laws since the date of their last entry into the United States are eligible to apply for extension of stay.

4. What nonimmigrant classifications allow an individual to extend his or her stay in the U.S.?

It is possible to request an extension in most temporary (nonimmigrant) categories. A few categories such as WT or WB do not permit extensions. The following are some of the nonimmigrant classifications that allow individuals to apply for an extension of their status while in the U.S.: B, E, H, L, O, P, R and TN. It is important to note that there are limits on the number or length of extensions that may be requested for most nonimmigrant classifications.

5. How many times can someone extend his or her stay in nonimmigrant status in the U.S.?

It depends on the nonimmigrant classification.

6. When an individual extends his or her stay, does it automatically extend the stay of his or her spouse and children?

No. When an individual applies for an extension of stay and his or her spouse and children are in a derivative status, a separate application must be filed to extend the stay of the spouse and each of the children. This application may be filed with the principal applicant’s application for extension of stay.


*Scott M. Borene is the Founder and Managing Attorney of Borene Law Firm, P. A. The immigration lawyers now with Borene Law Firm have more than 70 years of combined professional experience helping clients with U.S. and global visa and immigration projects. Scott Borene was selected by other lawyers as 2018 Lawyer of the Year in Immigration Law as noted by The Best Lawyers in America and Minnesota Monthly magazine. He has been repeatedly recognized as one of the Top 20 Lawyers in the World “most highly regarded by other lawyers” in corporate immigration law. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America and acknowledged as an Immigration Law Super Lawyer. He is often called upon to act as an “expert’s expert” to advise other experienced immigration lawyers on complex immigration matters. Scott Borene is a past Director and a past Member of the Board of Governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the world’s largest professional organization of immigration lawyers. In 2002, he was the founder and Conference Chair of AILA’s Global Immigration Summit in New York City, the world’s largest conference of global immigration lawyers. He has written many articles on immigration law and is a frequently invited expert speaker on immigration topics at AILA National Conferences and other major national and international legal conferences. He is the Editor-in-Chief of many leading professional reference books for immigration lawyers including The Global Immigration Guide: A Country-by-Country Survey and The Global Immigration Guide: Crossing Borders for Business, AILA’s most comprehensive books on Global Immigration. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Immigration Options for Academics and Researchers (2005), AILA’s leading Expert Occupational Handbook on immigration issues in higher education. He is the author of Dr. Yes – Some Practical Strategies for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Immigrant Visa Cases of Health Care Professionals. Scott Borene attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a National Merit Scholar. After graduation from Harvard, he attended William Mitchell Law School in Minnesota. Scott Borene has more than 30 years of experience helping employers obtain work visas for key international talent. Scott Borene can be reached at

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