Apply for a change or extension of your nonimmigrant status
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status is used by temporary visitors in the U.S. to stay longer or get a different visa type without leaving the country.
It is important to file Form I-539 in a timely manner so that one's visa status does not expire before getting a renewal or a change in visa designation.
You can change your status from one nonimmigrant status to another as long as you have a current nonimmigrant status. Below are some examples of when a person can and cannot use Form I-539 to change their status.
- A prospective student comes to the United States on a tourism visa and then decides to go to school in the U.S. they can change their status from a B visa to an F visa.
- A fiance of a U.S. citizen wants to change their status from a fiance visa to a student visa. This is not allowed. They must apply for permanent residency after getting a fiance visa and then they can go to school in the U.S. without an F visa.
Many nonimmigrant visa holders can extend their stays in the U.S. by using Form I-539 to file for an extension. However, the visa that they have has to be currently valid and allows for additional extensions.
Some visas only allow a certain number of extensions and you should check the details of your particular visa to see if you can apply for its extension.
While each visa program is different and may have different rules regarding extending or changing one's nonimmigrant status, Form I-539 can be used to change or extend many statuses, such as:
- A and A-3 visas
- B-1 visas (Business visitors)
- B-2 visas (Tourism visitors)
- CW-1 visa dependents
- E visas (Treaty trader or investor visa)
- CNMI visas
- F-1 visas (Academic students)
- G visas
- G-5 visas
- Dependents of H visa holders (Temporary workers)
- J-1 visas (Exchange visitors)
- Dependents of L visa holders (Intracompany transfers)
- M-1 visas (Vocational students)
- O visas (Extraordinary ability visa)
- P visas
- R visas (Religious workers)
- TD visas
- V visas
Applicants looking to extend or change their nonimmigrant visa status are required to submit certain documents in order to be eligible to apply. The following is a short list of those documents:
- Front and back copy of the original I-94, Arrival/Departure Document of each person on the I-539 application (Or Form I-102 if the original Form I-94 is not available).
- A valid passport (Or explanation for the expiration of your passport).
- All documents need to be in English. If any document is in another language it has to be translated. The original document, translated document and an affidavit from the translator attesting to the validity of the translation must be included.
Other visa types may have their own requirements and it is important to investigate what requirements your visa has regarding changing or extending one's status.
What is a nonimmigrant visa?
A nonimmigrant visa is a document that allows a foreign resident to come to the United States temporarily. There are many different ways to get a nonimmigrant visa and each designation has a different set of requirements.
One way to define a nonimmigrant visa is to compare it to an immigrant visa. Immigrant visas are permanent and nonimmigrant visas are temporary visits.
Can I renew my visa indefinitely?
Most visas have a limit to how many times one may renew. Very few visas can be repeatedly renewed past two or three times, rather, longer stays require an immigrant visa.
Can I change my nonimmigrant status to permanent status with this form?
Most nonimmigrant visa holders must leave the country in order to file for permanent status. However, in the rare cases in which one can change from nonimmigrant to immigrant status, an entirely different form and process is used, not Form I-539.