Dear Atty. Gurfinkel:
I arrived in the US about five months ago on my 10-year multiple visitor’s visa. I was given six months to stay, but would like to extend my visit.
Do you see any problems with applying for an extension?
Very truly yours,
Before September 11, 2001, it was a relatively simple and easy matter to apply for an extension of stay. Extensions were almost always automatically granted for an additional six months without any problems. But times have changed.
It seems that now, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not automatically or easily grant extensions, and if the extension is denied, the visitor could face a wide range of problems and complications.
I have seen denials, where the DHS concluded that the visitor already had enough time to visit, and that the extension request is “merely an attempt by the applicant to prolong hisher stay in the United States”.
Often, a denial notice is received months after the alien’s “period of authorized status” had expired. So, with the belated denial, the alien finds himself “out of status”, and subject to a variety of problems:
Existing visa is automatically void.
There is a law that states that if a person overstays his “period of authorized stay”, by even one day, his existing visa is voided, even if it is a 10-year multiple, with years to go before it actually expires. The only way to re-enter the U.S. is to apply for a new visa, at the U.S. Embassy in the alien’s home country.
Moreover, with the U.S. VISIT program, where people are photographed and finger printed before they leave the U.S., “backdating” your arrival into the Philippines to cover up your overstay, is not an option. The U.S. government will know exactly when you left the U.S.
3-10 year bar
Another law states that if an alien overstays his period of authorized stay by more than six months, but less than one year, and then “departs” the U.S., he cannot come back to the U.S. for 3 years. If the alien overstays for more than a year, and then departs, he cannot come back to the U.S. for 10 years. So, once the extension is denied, the person is out of status, and may also encounter problems with the 3/10 year bar.