The United States is a country of multiculturism. Many foreign people from many different parts of the world come to the U.S. in search of a better lifestyle and employment. Many types of visas are available for foreign people but many of the visas have some durations and expirations. It is required that all nonimmigrant visa holders seeking to extend employment-based nonimmigrant status in the United States file a petition. This petition is filed with the USCIS and is known as an I-129.Most of these visas are availed by the foreign national’s employer filing an I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). significantly, Form I-129 is also the one that employers must use to extend the employee’s status.

If you are currently in an employment-based nonimmigrant status and wish to extend period of authorized stay as an employment-based nonimmigrant in the United States, your employer must file a petition for you.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Your employer may apply to extend the visa period. But you must meet the following requirements:

  • You were legitimately admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa;
  • Your nonimmigrant visa status is valid;
  • You have not devoted yourself in any crimes that make you ineligible for a visa;
  • You have not desecrated the circumstances of your admission; and
  • Your passport has the required validity period

Check your passport’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s stamp or your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record to determine the date your authorized stay expires.

USCIS recommends that your employer applies to lengthen your stay period at least 45 days before your authorized period of stay expires. If you still stay in the United States longer than authorized duration period, you may be banned from returning to the United States and/or you may be deported from the United States.

Source: U.S. Department of State

In order to extend your temporary work status, your employer must file an I-129 petition on your behalf demanding that USCIS extend your stay in the U.S. Different statuses can be extended for different periods of time, as follows:

H-1B: The H-1B visa for foreign citizens who are heading towards the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation is naturally granted for an initial validity period of three years.

L-1: The L-1 visa is for the workers who work for a foreign company that is an affiliate or subsidiary of a U.S. registered company. Employees of the L1 are transferred from the foreign company branch to the U.S. company branch office. This L-1 visa can be extended in two-year increments for a total of seven years for L-1A and five years for L-1B.

O-1: The O-1 visa is for foreign nationals of extraordinary ability who are coming to the U.S. to work in their ground of proficiency. The O-1 visa can be extended in one-year increments indefinitely.

E-1 or E-2: The E-1 and E-2 visas will allow foreign nationals of some countries to come to the U.S. and carry on trade or investment actions. The E-1 visa is a Treaty Trader Visa and the E-2 is a Treaty Investor visa. E-1 and E-2 visas may be extended in two-year increments indefinitely.

TN:  The NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) has created the TN visa. One can get a TN visa only if he or she is a Canadian or Mexican citizen coming to the U.S. to work for a U.S. company. You can extend your TN status in three-year increments indefinitely, by following the same procedures outlined above.

R-1: The R-1 visa will allow foreign religious leaders and workers to come to the U.S. to work for a nonprofit or charitable religious organization as a minister or in a religious vocation or profession. You can extend your R-1 visa in 2.5-year increments for a maximum of five years, also by following the same procedures outlined above.

Source: U.S. Department of State

You must submit following documents to apply for application for extension of stay:

  • Application fee. Even if a spouse or children are also included in the same form, the fee must be paid just once. There is no biometric or any other extra fee
  • Copy of Form I-94
  • Copy of all pages of your passport which must be valid for your total required period of stay in the U.S.
  • For additional list of documents to be submitted, check Form I-539
Source: U.S. Department of State

The application fee to apply for the application for extension of stay is $370.

Source: U.S. Department of State

You are not allowed to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted to the United States in the following categories:

  • Visa Waiver Program
  • Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa)
  • In transit through the United States (C nonimmigrant visa)
  • In transit through the United States without a visa (TWOV)
  • Fiancé of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé (K nonimmigrant visa)
  • Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S nonimmigrant visa)
Source: U.S. Department of State