- An application to extend an H1B visa must be filed at least 3 months before the visa expires
- Premium visa processing allows the application to be processed within 15 days
- The H1B visa can be expired for up to 6 years after the initial 3 year period
The H1B visa is a dual intent visa that can be used to apply for a Green Card. This visa is initially awarded for three years and may later be extended for up to 6 more years. Find out everything you need to know about when and how to apply for an H1B visa extension.
The H1B visa is probably the most popular visa used by immigrants moving to the USA. One of the reasons for this is because the immigrant can apply for a Green Card while staying in America with this visa. The H1B visa is initially granted for a maximum period of three years. It may be later extended for up to 6 years.
This is essential if the immigrant is applying for a Green Card as the process to get permanent residency can be quite long.
When Should You Apply for H1B Visa Extension?
An immigrant can apply for an extension of their H1B visa up to 6 months before it expires. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) usually takes 2-3 months to process the petition. Hence, a visa extension application should be filed at least 3 months before the visa expires.
How long is the H1B Visa Extension Processing Time?
An H1B visa extension can be processed in three ways.
Regular H1B Visa Processing
An application for extension filed in this way will take about 3 months to be processed. Processing for these applications begins in April and continues till the end of October.
Premium H1B Visa Processing
Visa extensions applied for through premium processing are usually processed within 15 days. This involves an additional cost but the cost is refunded if the application is not processed within 15 days. Premium processing is ideal for people switching jobs.
Expedited H1B Visa Processing Time
This is done on a case-to-case basis if the petition meets at least one of the below criteria:
- The US employer or foreign employee faces severe financial losses if the visa is not extended in time.
- Humanitarian reasons
- Petition from a US Nonprofit Organization for the social and cultural interest of the USA
- National interest situations
- A mistake by the USCIS
How to Apply for H1B Visa Extension?
To extend an H1B visa, the following documents must be filed at the USCIS:
- By the employer
- Form I-129 with the H supplements and supporting documents
- New Labor Condition Application (LCA)
- By the applicant
- Form I-539 for the applicant’s spouse and dependent children
- Valid Form I-797 indicating the applicant’s current employer approved the extension of stay
- Original Form I-94. In case this has expired, a valid Form I-797 Notice of Approval must be submitted
A nonrefundable fee must be paid while submitting these documents. This payment may be made by corporate check, money order or a bank draft made out to the “U.S. Department of State.”
While the application is being processed, the USCIS may investigate the applicant’s right to an extension and interview the applicant and the applicant’s employer through the Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) office.
What if the H1B Visa Extension Application is Denied?
There are four options available to an immigrant whose application for a visa extension has been denied.
- Identify the reason for denial and refile the application
- File a legal motion through an attorney
- Apply for a different visa
- Leave the country
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