Extending visitor’s visa status – options for the Covid-Era

The past several months, we have fielded lots of questions about what to do when a family member is visiting in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa (B-1/B-2) and cannot return to their home country when they originally planned due to the pandemic.

Let’s say that your mother Anita is visiting from overseas. She originally planned to return to her home country on September 15th, before her I-94 expires. However, you are nervous about her travelling right now because of Covid, or flights are not available, or there are strict quarantine requirements. It is possible for Anita to file an application to extend her B-1/B-2 status here in the U.S..

If you decide to go that route, Anita must file the application to extend status before her current I-94 expires. It is important to double-check when your I-94 expires. You cannot assume that the officer at the port of entry gave you the full 180 days. If Anita timely files the extension request, she can remain in the U.S. while the application is pending. What happens next:

  • If the application is approved while she is still in the U.S., she can remain in the U.S. until the expiration date of the approval. When she receives the approval, she will receive a new I-94 at the bottom of the approval notice.
  • If the application is denied, she must leave when the application is denied. She will start accruing unlawful presence as of the date of the denial.
    • If a person accrues more than 180 days but less than one year of unlawful presence, there is a three-year bar to re-entering the U.S..
    • If a person accrues one year or more of unlawful presence, there is a ten-year bar to re-entering the U.S..
  • If the application is still pending and Anita hasn’t received a decision before the end date requested on the extension application, she will need to leave the U.S. on or before that date.

Covid has definitely created a lot of challenges in the immigration world and elsewhere. The good news is that perhaps if you are in this situation, your mother (or mother-in-law) Anita can help with the homeschooling of your children while she’s here. There’s always a bright side!

We are here to help you navigate the immigration maze with peace of mind and confidence. Contact Sumner Immigration Law to set a consultation to create your strategy today! We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the U.S. and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email to info@sumnerimmigration.com. We look forward to hearing from you.