Form I-539, Explained
A guide to the processing time, cost, and requirements to extend or change nonimmigrant status
What is Form I-539?
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, is used by nonimmigrants currently in the U.S. to request an extension of their stay or a change of their nonimmigrant status.
Nonimmigrants who are in the U.S. temporarily, such as students, visitors, or temporary workers, may use this form to apply for an extension of their authorized stay in the same nonimmigrant category or to change to a different nonimmigrant category. For example, an individual who entered the U.S. as a visitor (B-2) may apply to change to a student (F-1) status.
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Form I-539 Processing Time
Processing times for Form I-539 vary widely depending on the applicant’s current nonimmigrant status, whether they’re filing to change status or extend an existing status, and the service center processing the application.
For the most up to date estimate for your specific situation, it’s best to visit USCIS’ processing times tool. Be sure to input your form type (Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status), your form category (the type of status change or extension you’re requesting), and the service center processing your form.
Form I-539 Cost
The current filing fee for Form I-539 is $370. Applicants may also be required to pay a biometrics fee of $85 after applying.
Form I-539 Eligibility
Individuals who are currently in the U.S. on a valid nonimmigrant visa, such as students, visitors, or temporary workers, may be eligible to file Form I-539 to request an extension of their authorized stay or a change to a different nonimmigrant status. Specifically, the following individuals may be eligible to file Form I-539:
- Nonimmigrants who were lawfully admitted to the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa.
- Nonimmigrants whose current status has not expired before filing the Form I-539.
- Nonimmigrants who have not committed any crimes or violated any immigration laws that would make them ineligible for the requested status.
- Nonimmigrant workers (such as H-1B visa holders) who have lost their job and are searching for new employment in the U.S.
It’s important to note that eligibility requirements and restrictions can vary depending on the specific nonimmigrant category and the individual’s circumstances.
Form I-539 Supporting Documents
The documents required to file Form I-539 can vary depending on the individual’s circumstances and the type of extension or change of status being requested. However, generally speaking, applicants are typically required to submit the following documents and information along with their Form I-539:
- Form I-539, completed and signed by the applicant.
- Filing fee and any required additional fees, such as biometrics fees.
- Copy of the applicant’s passport biographic page and the page showing the applicant’s nonimmigrant visa or admission stamp.
- Evidence of the applicant’s current nonimmigrant status, such as a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
- Documents supporting the extension or change of status being requested, such as evidence of continued studies for students or evidence of a job offer for temporary workers.
- Any other documents or evidence required by the specific nonimmigrant category or requested by USCIS, such as proof of financial support or evidence of ties to the applicant’s home country.
USCIS also provides detailed checklists for each nonimmigrant status and what specific evidence to include when filing Form I-539 here.
Form I-539 FAQs
Yes. Assuming you filed for an extension or change of status before your I-94 expiration date (before your current visa expires), you’re generally allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to 240 days while your I-539 application is pending. During this time, you must continue to abide by the terms of your current status, meaning you may not be authorized to work or attend school until your application has been approved. If your application is denied, you must leave the U.S. (if it is denied before your current visa expires, you have until the expiration date on your I-94 to leave the country).
According to USCIS guidelines, it is recommended to apply for an extension of your stay in the U.S. at least 45 days before the expiration of your current visa. Remaining in the U.S. after your period of authorized stay could result in a bar from re-entering the U.S. or deportation/removal from the country. Additionally, if your visa expires before you file Form I-539, you may need to apply for a new visa from your home country, rather than extending your status from within the U.S.