Written by Brian Sullivan, Vermont Immigration Attorney at MSK Attorneys:
A visa extension is one of the most common immigration attorney requests. Many people living and working in the United States want to find ways to stay beyond the expiration of their visas.
It is not always necessary to get on a plane and leave the day a United States visa runs out. It can be difficult to get an extension, but there are options. Many aliens who are employed, related to U.S. citizens and who have no criminal record can remain in the United States while a visa extension is processed.
How Can I Stay in the United States After a Visa Expires?
There are three options if you need a visa extension or wish to stay in the United States after a visa expires:
- Green card: This provides permanent resident alien status. A green card can be issued for immigrants who have married U.S. citizens or who are the parent or child of a U.S. citizen in certain cases. Step-parents and step-children may also qualify as may adoptees and adoptive parents. In cases of marriage, you may need to prove that you did not get married for immigration purposes.
- Visa reclassification: It is sometimes possible to change the type of visa held by an immigrant. For example, a student visa may be able to be converted to a work visa if you get a job after graduation.
- Visa extension: Depending on the type of visa an immigrant holds, it may be possible to extend its duration. This process should begin well before the visa expires.
There are several situations in which a visa extension can be granted, such as an undergraduate student visa getting an extension for graduate studies, or an H-1B visa extension to accommodate longer employment with a U.S. business. If opportunities to study or work in the United States present themselves, speak to an immigration lawyer as soon as you can so that you can evaluate the likelihood of a visa extension.
How Do I Apply for a Visa Extension?
It is best to seek the help of an immigration attorney when applying for a visa extension. An experienced attorney will be able to recommend the fastest and most likely methods for extending a visa.
When you meet with an attorney, you should bring your passport and visa and be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What type of visa do you have? This could be an R, B-1/B-2, H-1B or J-1, for example. Check the Visa Type/Class, which will appear on the same page as your visa, typically in your passport.
- What is the expiration date of the visa?
- Have you changed visa type or class?
- Do you have an I-94 card or I-94 sheet? Bring this with you, as it answers most questions.
- When did you most recently enter the United States? This should be stamped on your passport and may affect the duration of your visa.
- What is your highest educational degree? If you hold a Master’s Degree or equivalent education and work experience, this may expedite the visa extension process.
MSK Attorneys Is Here to Help
The current political environment may make you feel afraid to ask questions about visa extensions or lead you to believe that extensions will not be granted. Although the visa extension process has become more complicated and drawn out, there are often ways for immigrants to extend visas, reclassify visas or obtain a green card.
An immigration attorney works for you and is committed to helping you achieve your goals. Attorneys have a duty to maintain confidentiality and will not turn you in to government officials or law enforcement, even if you have an expired visa. MSK Attorneys is committed to ensuring that all people receive fair treatment and full representation under the laws of the State of Vermont and the United States. We will advocate for your rights and explore every avenue to preserve your legal presence in Vermont.
If you have questions about visa extensions or your immigrant status, please contact us online or call us at 1-802-861-7000. We also encourage you to review client testimonials on our website from satisfied clients to learn more about the service we provide.