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Can I extend my stay without violating US immigration law?

Many people come to Florida and throughout the United States from other countries for a specific period of time and decide that they want to stay longer. While many might make the mistake of simply not going back to their home country without having legal status in the U.S., there are many reasons why it is advisable for a person to seek to be granted an extension to stay. Those who are interested in an extension need to make sure to go through the legal process for doing so to prevent running afoul with the law and avoiding the various punishments that can come from a violation.

A person who would like to extend his or her stay needs to file a request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Form I-539 is used for this purpose. It is an application to change the status prior to the authorized stay expiring. A person who stays longer than authorized could be subjected to deportation and being barred from returning. The USCIS advises that the application to extend the stay be made a minimum of 45 days before the initial expiration.

The stay can be extended if: the person was admitted legally with a nonimmigrant visa; the nonimmigrant visa is valid; no crimes were committed that can make the person ineligible for a visa; there were no violations of the conditions of the admission; the passport is valid and will remain so for the duration of the visit. A person is not allowed to apply for an extension if he or she was: admitted under the Visa waiver program; a crew member; transiting through the U.S.; transiting through the U.S. without a visa; is the fiancé of a U.S. citizen or the dependent of a fiancé; or is an information regarding terrorism or organized crime.

People who are in the U.S. need to be aware of how their legal status can be affected if they choose to overstay their visa and do not get the approval to do so. Making sure that there is no issue with illegal immigration is an important part of visiting the U.S. Speaking to a legal professional who is well-acquainted with US immigration law can help with receiving an extension to stay and in dealing with other issues than an immigrant might face when visiting the U.S.

Source: uscis.gov, "Extend Your Stay," accessed on July 5, 2016

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