My B2 tourist visa indicates it is valid for ten years. How long can I stay in the U.S.?
While the B2 visa may be valid for ten years and multiple entries, typically you may stay for up to six months while on a tourist visa. When you are admitted into the U.S. by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer, he/she will grant a specific period when stamping your passport. For an official record, we advise you to visit CBP’s website after entry (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94), print and keep a copy of your I-94 record. You simply need the information from your passport, such as your passport number. The date indicated on the I-94 governs your authorized period of stay. You can also ensure your name and birthdate were properly entered by the admitting officer.
What happens if I overstay my I-94?
If you overstay the time granted upon admission and reflected on your I-94, you may begin to accrue unlawful presence, unless you have filed an extension of stay request (see below) prior to the expiration of your I-94. Moreover, if an individual overstays the “period of stay authorized by the Attorney General,” the visa used by that individual to enter the U.S. can automatically become void. To obtain a new visa, most applicants will be required to re-apply at an Embassy or consulate in their home country.
Can I extend my I-94?
Yes, you can request an extension of stay by filing with USCIS. Please note that extensions are not guaranteed, but are granted in cases where compelling reasons and an intent to return home are shown.
What if my I-94 expires while I am waiting for a decision on my extension request?
You can stay past the expiry of your I-94 only if the extension application is properly filed (see below). You are generally permitted to remain in the United States while the application is pending, even if the I-94 expires during the pending period. Since the I-94 does technically expire, you must be careful to properly file your request to ensure that you will not be deemed to have overstayed your visa, as that can cause future problems.
How do I properly file my extension of stay request?
- The application must be filed in a timely manner (i.e, before the expiration of the current period of authorized stay);
- The application must be non-frivolous (i.e. has an arguable basis in law or fact and was not filed for an improper purpose); and
- The applicant must not have engaged in any unauthorized employment before the application was filed or while it was pending.
What if I want to depart the U.S. before a decision is made on my application?
You are under no obligation to remain in the U.S. until your application is adjudicated. As set forth above, the time you remain in the U.S. after the expiry date of your I-94 will not subject you to overstay issues so long as your application was properly filed. We recommend filing a withdrawal with USCIS immediately before departing the U.S. and keeping a copy of the withdrawal and evidence of departure (such as stamped flight tickets). Once you leave, your extension request will be abandoned.
Visa extensions can pose complicated legal issues. This article is intended for informational purposes only. For further information, please contact our office.