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A visa has ended during quarantine: how can tourists extend their stay in the USA

The quarantine has created many problems for those in the United States on nonimmigrant visas. What to do if you are in the United States, and the visa expires, said Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Philadelphia, immigration lawyer Irina Mazur at a webinar for "Razom for Ukraine".

Photo: Shutterstock

At the moment, the only way to legally stay in the US is to complete renewal form. It does not guarantee a visa extension, but it will be proof that the person has done everything possible so as not to violate US immigration law. According to rumors, the States will automatically renew the visa to all who filed such an application, but so far there is no official confirmation of this information.

Who can apply for renewal?

Holders of non-immigrant visas. Such visas are issued to foreign citizens for a certain time. For example, when you want to visit friends or just see the country, you get a guest or tourist visa. Student visas also belong to this category.

How to fill out a form

Need to go to the official website Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and go to I-539 Form. It can be submitted both electronically and on paper.

The immigration fee for applying for a status change form is $ 370. For each person indicated on the form, you need to pay an additional $ 85 biometric fee.

In order to avoid difficulties with filling out the form, the site provides instruction.

It says that it is advisable to send an application 45 days before the expiration of the current status, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has complicated our life, this recommendation is not relevant.

In the current circumstances, an application can be submitted even a day before the expiration of the current status, but Be sure to explain in writing the reasons for your delay in the USA and the fact that you deliberately did not delay the submission of the form, did not commit crimes, did not work illegally, did not violate the rules of staying in the country and are not in the process of being expelled from the United States, and also emphasize that the reasons for your delay are beyond your control.

Each member of your family who is abroad with you and is inscribed on your form must additionally fill out the form I-xnumxa and submit it along with the main one - I-539.

On the subject: Americans married to immigrants will not receive financial assistance for coronavirus

The applicant must also prove that he did not enjoy state assistance. and was not a "public burden".

For a list of benefits and allowances due to which an immigrant may be considered a “social burden,” read in our material.

Most often, residents of post-Soviet countries come to the United States on non-immigrant visas such as B-1 and B-2, i.e. business travel and tourism.

Important! Together with the status change form necessarily served I-94 form (it records the date of entry into the United States).

In addition, all Ukrainians stranded in the United States who have applied for help at the Ukrainian consulate will receive a cover letter confirming the fact that they tried to leave the country, but now this is not possible. And this letter will also need to be submitted along with the documents - as confirmation of your attempts to leave the United States.

Persons who are in the United States student visa, together with the application you need to send the form I-94 and student I-20 form.

There are also many people who are in the United States on the basis of an exchange visa J-1. It can be training, work or internship. These people should contact an exchange program representative and get detailed information on their next steps.

Who can’t apply for an extension of their stay in the United States of America

There are 3 categories of people who are not eligible to submit Form I-539:

  1. People staying in the USA on a bride or groom visa, or a child of the bride / groom (K-1 and K-2 visas)
  2. Sailors (category D)
  3. Transit Persons in the United States (Category C or TWOV)

These are quite complex visas, so it is advisable to contact a lawyer and resolve the issue individually.

important details

If children under 14 years old, then the parents themselves sign their form. Photocopies The documents attached to the application must be clear and of high quality.

All documents should be submitted. English or provide for translation into English to a person who has special certification of a translator.

All documents written by hand must be filled out black pen.

If a translator or lawyer helps you, he must write your name and sign the form.

On the subject: Coronavirus and immigrants: what holders of work visas need to know during a pandemic

Confirmation of acceptance of the application will come by e-mail (in case of filing online) or by regular mail to the address indicated in the application. If you changed your place of residence, you must notify USCIS within 10 days.

How to fill out form I-539

To do this, your international passport и I-94 form (entry on arrival in the country), which can be found on US Border Guard website.

Download form I-539 to a computer from the USCIS website. If you print the form, then the pages should be placed on only one side of the sheet.

You need to answer the questions only the truth, carefully read each question so as not to make a mistake. If you have ever violated the rules of staying in the USA on a non-immigrant visa (which may not play into your hands), explain in a special field for what reasons this happened. A valid explanation will help you get an extension.

Where to send the completed form

If you send application by mail, then the address where you want to send documents can be found at link.


Order a shipment with the ability to track delivery, and you will receive a number with which you can find out if your documents reached the addressee and weren’t lost on the way.

You will also receive a tracking number for the status of your application and you can check it by link.

If you submit an application online, then on your e-mail you will receive a confirmation letter about the sending and acceptance of documents for consideration.

No one can say for sure the deadlines for reviewing documents, but for a positive result, collect the most complete package of documents as possible, this will help USCIS quickly make a decision without asking you for additional documents, which lengthens the application review period.

Read also on ForumDaily:

Will higher education from the CIS countries come in handy in the USA: the experience of an immigrant

How to extend or change your status of quarantine in the USA: update from USCIS

A simple explanation of the complex medical insurance system in the USA: the immigrant’s personal experience

Russian-speaking biologist in the USA spoke about the most dangerous places during the epidemic

US immigrant businessmen and quarantine removal: what our people think about the situation in the country

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