APPLICATION TO EXTEND/CHANGE NONIMMIGRANT STATUS FORM I-539

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FORM I-539

This form is used to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an extension of stay under a non-employment nonimmigrant status (such as a B-1), or a change from one non-employment nonimmigrant status to another. In certain situations, you may also use this form to apply for an initial nonimmigrant status. Finally, you may also use this form if you are a nonimmigrant F-1 or M-1 student applying for reinstatement. Note, this form is not used to change to, or extend, an employment-based nonimmigrant status (such as h-1B). 

WHO CAN EXTEND THEIR STAY IN THE U.S.?

Note- If you are in one of the following employment-related nonimmigrant categories, your employer should file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, instead of this form. This should be donebefore the date your Form I-94 expires, and ideally it should be filed at least 45 days before it expires. 

  • E-1; E-2 or E-3
  • H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3;
  • L-1A or L-1B;
  • O-1 or O-2;
  • P-1, P-2, or P-3;
  • Q-1;
  • R-1;
  • TN-1 or TN-2;

If your employer files a Form I-129Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker to extend your stay, and if you have a spouse or unmarried children under age 21 whose U.S. status is dependent on yours: they will need to file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, to also extend their status. All dependent family members can be put on one I-539. However, you should file your family’s I-539 with the form I-129, so that both applications can be processed and considered at about the same time. However,  despite the fact that all dependent family can be put on one I-539, each individual family member is a separate extension application, and your I-129 is also considered a separate  application. Thus, this must be done carefully and the correct supporting documentation needs to be submitted for each individual family member. 

If you are in a nonimmigrant status that is not employment related (such as a B-1 or a B-2), then to apply to extend your stay in the United States, you will likely need to file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. You will need to do this before the date on your I-94 expires, and ideally, at least 45 days before it is set to expire. The following nonimmigrant statuses, require the filing of a I-539 for an extension request:

  • A-3 (Attendants, Servants, Personal Employees of Diplomatic and Other Government Officials and Immediate Family)
  • B-1 and B-2 (Visitors for Business or Pleasure)
  • E-1 and E-2 (Dependents of Treaty Traders, Treaty Investors, and Their Employees)
  • E-3 (Dependents of Skilled Professionals from Australia) 
  • G-5 (Attendants, Servants, Personal Employees of Foreign Government Officials and Immediate Family)
  • H-4 (Dependents of Temporary Skilled or Unskilled Workers and Trainees)
  • K-3 and K-4 (Spouse of U.S. Citizen and Minor Child)
  • L-2 (Dependents of Intracompany Transferees)
  • M (Vocational Students and Dependents)
  • N (Parents and Children)
  • NATO-7 (Attendants, Servants, Personal Employees and Immediate Family Members)
  • O-3 (Dependents of Aliens With Extraordinary Ability and Their Assistants)
  • P-4 (Dependents of Athletes and Entertainers)
  • R-2 (Dependents of Religious Workers)
  • All “V”categories (Certain Second-Preference Beneficiaries)
  • TD (Dependents NAFTA)

Not eligible to extend. If you were admitted to the United States in any of the following nonimmigrant categories (as shown on your I-94), you cannot extend your stay in the United States. If you are in any of these categories, you must depart the U.S. on or before the date your I-94 expires:

  • C (Alien in Transit)
  • D (Crewman)
  • K-1 or K-2 (Fiancé(e) or Dependent of Fiancé(e))
  • S (Witness or Informant beyond a total of 3 years)
  • TWOV (Transit Without Visa)
  • WT or WB (Visa Waiver Program)

WHO CAN CHANGE THEIR NONIMMIGRANT STATUS?

Generally, if you were lawfully admitted into the United States (talked with the authorities at a Port of Entry or at the airport), and if you are still in status, you can apply using a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, to change from one non-employment nonimmigrant status to another. The exception to this is, if you have committed a crime or done something else that violated your status, you may be ineligible to apply for a change of status. Note: if you need to change to an employment-based nonimmigrant status (such as an H-1B), your employer will have to use a Form I-129Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker to apply for this. Remember, both of these forms are only applications to change your status. You are not entitled to change your status. It is a discretionary decision that USCIS makes and they could deny your request, or decide that you need to depart the U.S. and apply for a new visa before being readmitted. 

If you want to change your status to one of the following employment-based nonimmigrant categories, your future employer should file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, before your Form I-94 expires. Ideally, this should be filed at least 45 days before your I-94 expires. 

  • E-1 and E-2 (Treaty Traders, Treaty Investors, and Employees of Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors)
  • E-3 (Skilled Professionals from Australia)
  • H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3 (Temporary Skilled or Unskilled Workers and Trainees)
  • L-1A or L-1B (Intracompany Transferees)
  • O-1 or O-2 (Aliens with Extraordinary Ability and Their Assistants)
  • P-1, P-2, or P-3 (Athletes and Entertainers)
  • Q-1 (International Cultural Exchange Visitors)
  • R-1 (Religious Workers)
  • TN-1 or TN-2 (Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA))

If your future employer files a Form I-129Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker to change your status, and if you have a spouse or unmarried children under age 21: they will need to file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, to also change their statuses (if they wish to be your dependents).  All dependent family members can be put on one I-539. However, you should file your family’s I-539 with the form I-129, so that both applications can be processed and considered at about the same time. However, despite the fact that all dependent family can be put on one I-539, each individual family member is a separate change of status application, and your I-129 is also considered a separate application. Thus, this must be done carefully and the correct supporting documentation needs to be submitted for each individual family member. 

If you wish to change your status to one of the following nonimmigrant categories, you should file Form I-539:

  • A (Diplomatic and Other Government Officials, Immediate Family members, and Employees)
  • B-1 & B-2 (Visitors for Business or Pleasure)
  • E-1 & E-2 (Dependents of Treaty Traders, Treaty Investors, and Their Employees)
  • E-3 (Dependents of Skilled Professionals from Australia)
  • F (Academic Students and Dependents)
  • G (Foreign Government Officials, Certain Immediate Family Members, and Employees)
  • H-4 (Dependents of Temporary Skilled or Unskilled Workers and Trainees)
  • L-2 (Dependents of Intracompany Transferees)
  • M (Vocational Students and Dependents)
  • N (Parents and Children of Certain People Who Have Been Granted Special Immigrant Status)
  • NATO (NATO Representatives, Officials, Employees, and Immediate Family Members)
  • O-3 (Dependents of Aliens with Extraordinary Ability and Their Assistants)
  • P-4 (Dependents of Athletes and Entertainers)
  • R-2 (Dependents of Religious Workers)
  • TD (Dependents of Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA))

If you have a spouse or unmarried children under 21 in the U.S. with you, that wish to request the exact same change in nonimmigrant status as yourself, you can all request this on the same I-539.  Despite the fact that everyone can apply using one I-539–when all applying to change to the exact same status, each individual family member is considered to be a separate change of status application. Thus, when you include everyone on your I-539 application, you must do this carefully, and the correct supporting documentation needs to be submitted for each individual family member. 

A Couple of Things to Note:

  • If you were admitted as a J-1 or an M-1, there are certain restrictions on your eligibility to request a change in status. J-1 status holders (exchange visitors), are generally subject to a 2-year foreign residency requirement (following their time as a J-1), so they cannot generally apply to change status. There are some exceptions to this rule and some waivers that can be applied for, however. M-1 status holders (vocational students), cannot change status to have an F-1 nor generally to any H status. There is an exception for changing to an H Status, as long as the applicant was qualified for that H status without the vocational training they did in the United States. 
  • Be careful of the 90 day rule. Generally, a person that comes into the United States on a nonimmigrant status, should not apply to change their status for at least 91 days. Why? Well, each visa and accompanying status has a specific purpose for your time in the United States. Thus, when you are applying to come to the United States as a student (say an F-1 for example), you are telling the U.S. that you need a visa that allows you to study in the United States. It is fine to change your mind about what you would like to do in the U.S., but if you change your mind too early, there will be a presumption that you came to the United States with a different intention, than the visa you applied for. This is true even if you had the best intentions and literally just changed your mind shortly after arriving in the United States. The magic rule is that if you apply to USCIS to change your status within 90 or fewer days of arriving, it will be presumed that you committed fraud, and that you had always intended to do something inconsistent with your visa type, in the United States. If you wait until 91 days however, there will be no presumption of fraud. It is a rather silly arbitrary distinction between 90 days and 91 days, but it is the USCIS policy for how they treat the applications, and that is the timeline they have set up. So in our example, if you came in as a student (under F-1) to study something academic, but if you decided after arriving in the United States and starting your academic program, that you would rather take the compelling job of your dreams that you have just been offered, you just have to be careful about when you apply. In this example, you didn’t do anything wrong, you just changed your mind (which is allowed), but you must be mindful of this rule.

If you were admitted in any of the following nonimmigrant categories, there are certain restrictions concerning your ability to request a change in your nonimmigrant status:

  • J-1 (Exchange Visitor subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement cannot change status, with certain exceptions)
  • M-1 (Vocational student cannot change status to F-1 and to any H classification—if the vocational training helped him or her qualify for the H classification)

Not eligible to change status. If you were admitted in any of the following nonimmigrant categories, you cannot change your nonimmigrant status and must depart the United States:

  • C (Alien in Transit)
  • D (Crewman)
  • K-1 or K-2 (Fiancé(e) or Dependent of Fiancé(e))
  • K-3 or K-4 Certain Husbands and Wives of U.S. Citizens and their Dependent Children
  • S (Witness or Informant)
  • TWOV (Transit without Visa)
  • WT or WB (Under the Visa Waiver Program.)

HOW TO FILL THE FORM I-539?

??? You can fill out the form on a computer, typewriter or by hand. If you are filing it out by hand, you must write neatly in black ink. It is very important answer all of the questions. If a question does not apply, type or write “NA” in the appropriate space. Be sure to sign the form in the space provided. USCIS automatically rejects any forms that are incomplete and/or unsigned. Read more

OVERVIEW OF APPLICATION PROCESS

???We will outline common CHANGE or Extend NONIMMIGRANT STATUS  issues, explain how to complete petition, and offer pointers for completing the application process.

DOCUMENT CHECKLIST

You must submit all required initial evidence and supporting documentation with your application at the time of filing. If you are electronically filing this application, you must follow the instructions provided on the USCIS website, www.uscis.gov/e-filing. You may be required to submit additional evidence as noted in these instructions.Translations. Any document you submit to USCIS with information in a foreign language must be accompanied by a full English translation. The translator must certify that the English language translation is complete and accurate, and that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English.

  • Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record. If U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or USCIS issued you a Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, provide your I-94 admission number and date that your authorized period of stay expires or expired (as shown on Form I-94).
  • Valid Passport. If you were required to have a passport to be admitted into the United States, you must maintain the validity of your passport during your nonimmigrant stay. If a required passport is not valid when you file Form I-539, submit an explanation with your form.

FORM I-539 FILING INSTRUCTIONS

Filing Fee: The filing fee for Form I-539 is $370. You may pay the fee with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. When filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you may also pay by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Please note that service centers are not able to process credit card payments.

Filing TypeFiling FeeBiometric Services Fee
V Nonimmigrants$370$85
CNMI initial grant of status$370$85
A1, A2, A3, G1, G2, G3, G4, G5$0$0
All other filing types$370$

Where To File? For a complete list of mailing addresses, visit our Form I-539 Direct Filing Addresses webpage.

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