What is the I-539 form used for?
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.
You must file Form I-539 on time so that your visa status does not expire before getting an extension or a change in status. Apply for an extension or change of status as soon as you know it is required or at least 45 days before your visa status expires.
Other Purposes of the I-539
Per the USCIS:
“In certain situations, you may use this application to apply for an initial nonimmigrant status.
You may also use this application if you are a nonimmigrant F-1 or M-1 student applying for reinstatement.”
You can change your status from one nonimmigrant status to another if your current nonimmigrant status has not expired. Check below for a list of visa categories eligible for a change of status.
Many nonimmigrant visa holders can extend their stay 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 allow for extensions.
Some visas only allow a certain number of extensions. You should check the details of your particular visa to see if you can apply for its extension.
Each visa program is different and may have different rules regarding extending or changing the nonimmigrant status. Form I-539 can be used to change or extend the following:
- A visas
- A-3 visas
- B-1 or B-2 visas
- E visa dependents
- I, Representatives of Foreign Media and Dependents
- F-1 visas
- G visas
- G-5 visas
- H-4 (dependents of H visa holders)
- J-1 visas
- K-3 and K-4 (eligible to apply for an extension of status only)
- L-2 visas (dependents of intracompany transferees)
- M-1 visas
- O-3 visas (dependents of those with the extraordinary ability visa)
- P-4 visas (dependents of P visa holders)
- R-2 visas (dependents of religious workers)
- TD visas
- T visa holders
- T derivative nonimmigrants
- U visa holders
- U derivative nonimmigrants
- V visas
Any nonimmigrant (A to V) may not change status to K-3 or K-4.
What are the supporting documents to be provided?
Applicants looking to extend or change their nonimmigrant visa status need to submit certain documents to be eligible to apply. The following is a list of those documents:
- Copy of the front and back 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, an explanation why it is not valid.)
- Each visa type may have its specific list of supporting documents. Make sure to check and provide the same with your application.
- All documents need to be in English. If any document is in another language it has to be translated to English. The original document, the translation, and an affidavit from the translator attesting to the validity of the translation must be included.
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.
Can I renew my visa indefinitely?
There is a limit to how many times you can renew certain visas. Very few visas can be repeatedly renewed more than two or three times. For longer stays, it may be better to get an immigrant visa.
Can I change my nonimmigrant status to permanent status with this form?
You cannot use Form I-539 to change your nonimmigrant status to permanent residence. Most nonimmigrant visa holders must leave the country to file for permanent residence in the US.