If you have the desire to extend your stay in the United States, it’s imperative to take all the right steps at the right time. Assuming you can make this decision without additional documentation is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

The first thing you need to do is use Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, to file a request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Timing is important here, as you need to do so before your authorized stay comes to an end.

In the event that you remain in the country past your authorization date, it can lead to deportation and/or stop you from being able to return in the future.

You are permitted to apply for an extension if:

  • You were originally admitted into the country with a nonimmigrant visa
  • Your visa status is valid
  • You have not committed a crime making you ineligible
  • You have a valid passport
  • You have not violated any terms or conditions of your original admission to the country

There could come a point when you realize that you are not ready to leave the United States. While there is no guarantee that you will be able to stay, knowing how the extension process works is of utmost importance.

Once you have a clear idea of what you need to do, it’s time to take action. The steps that you take, as well as when you take them, will have a lot to do with what happens next and whether you are permitted to stay in the country longer.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Extend Your Stay,” accessed Feb. 13, 2018