Foreign nationals who enter the United States with non-immigrant visas sometimes want to remain in the country longer than authorized by officials upon admission to the U.S. at an airport, seaport or the border.
The length of time they can legally stay often does not coincide with the limits of their visas, but one of the key U.S. rules is never to overstay the period imposed by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent upon arrival — even if the visa is still valid.
That’s why the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows foreigners to request stay extensions, as long as their purpose is to continue the same activities for which their visa was approved and issued.
And now a new USCIS technology makes it faster and easier for international visitors with tourist, business and student visas, among others, to request extensions to remain in the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) component agency recently announced the launch of eProcessing, a digital immigration processing system that expands online filing.
This new technological system to handle benefits requests will help visitors who came for business or pleasure, as well as international students, to submit their applications for stay extensions.
Other types of visa classifications will be added to this groundbreaking digital processing system soon.
“eProcessing connects previously separate technology systems within the agency to ultimately improve decision timeliness, increase transparency during the application process, and to accelerate the availability of online filing for all immigration benefits,” the agency said in the announcement.
“Each year, USCIS receives more than 8 million requests for immigration benefits. Improvements to USCIS technology will continue to enable more applicants to submit many of these requests online,” it added.
“Online filing is a more convenient and interactive way for applicants to submit applications, check the status of their case, and receive notices from USCIS,” said agency spokeswoman Jessica Collins in a statement sent to el Nuevo Herald to celebrate this milestone.
Visa categories that qualify
Foreign nationals who want to extend their stay in the United States can file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, online if they have the following types of non-immigrant visas:
▪ F-2 spouse or child of an academic student with a specific expiration date
▪ M-1 vocational student
▪ M-2 spouse or child of an M-1 student
The first step is to create a personal account with USCIS by going to https://myaccount.uscis.dhs.gov and using an email address to register.
If you need help, these are the official instructions to fill Form I-539.
USCIS says that submitting applications for immigration benefits online has these advantages:
▪ It starts the process more quickly than sending the paperwork by mail delivery
▪ It allows direct follow-up communications with USCIS without notification letters
▪ It allows applicants to receive online updates about their cases
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Daniel Shoer Roth is a journalist covering immigration law who does not offer legal advice or individual assistance to applicants. Follow him on Twitter @DanielShoerRoth.
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