If you’re an immigrant living in Florida, you may at some point wish to stay in the country longer than your original authorization. But simply remaining in the country past your original stay carries serious consequences.
The safest alternative to leaving when your immigration authorization is up is to attempt to extend your stay in the country legally. This can be done, but it requires filling out forms and meeting specific requirements.
How to extend your stay
To extend your stay in the United States, it’s necessary to complete Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant status. Note that you must have completed and submitted this before your originally mandated stay is set to expire.
If you’re unclear about when exactly your original authorization ends, you can consult Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record to determine that date.
Ideally, you should try to submit Form I-539 at least 45 days before the expiration of your original stay.
It’s important to understand that not everyone submitting Form I-539 will automatically receive an extension. Certain things you either do or don’t do, as well as your exact immigration status, will determine whether an extension may be granted.
If your passport becomes invalid for any reason, including expiring during the tenure of your stay, you will be ineligible. The same is true for your visa status. Committing any crimes jeopardizing your visa status will result in your extension being rejected. Similarly, if you’ve violated the conditions of your admission into the country, you’ll be rejected.
Certain types of immigration status will also lead to rejection, such as being in the Visa Waiver Program, being in transit through the United States, or being a fiance or dependent of a fiance of a United States citizen.
Extending your stay as an immigrant is the sole legal way to remain in the country after your original authorization to be in the United States expires. To extend a stay, you must fill out an I-539 form and meet certain conditions.