In March 2020, when COVID-19 basically shut down the United States, people hoped that the Safer at Home orders would last a few months. Then we thought that 2021 would bring us all some relief. Of course, that did not happen.
Therefore, if you were visiting the United States on a B1 or B2 visa, you probably thought ahead and filed an application to extend your B2 nonimmigrant visa and planned to return to your home country before it ever expired. But travel restrictions continue, and fear of the virus remains.
Because it appears that the nationwide constraints will continue through the Spring of 2021, and your home country may be hesitant to allow you to come home for those same pandemic-related reasons, you might have to file a second B2 extension application. But the question is, will you be able to receive this second B2 extension from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)?
Your B2 Tourist Visa
Having B2 status means that a foreign national is allowed to be in the United States for a limited amount of time on a nonimmigrant tourist visa. Generally, such tourist entries are valid for six months, at which time the holder of the B2 should be prepared to return to their home country.
Unlike the B1 visa that is used for purposes of business, the B2 status is for the purposes of pleasure. Foreign nationals may use their B2 nonimmigrant visa to go on vacation in the U.S., to visit American friends and family, or to receive treatment from a U.S. medical professional.
If someone finds that they will need to remain in the United States for longer than half a year, they may need to file for a B2 extension. Currently, many individuals are unable to return to their home country when their tourist visa expires because of reasons related to the coronavirus. If this is the case, they have had to obtain a B2 extension from the USCIS.
A foreign tourist who is present in America on a nonimmigrant visa needs to file a Form I-539 to extend their B2 beyond the initial six month period. This should be done at least six weeks before the expiration of their I-94.
If a B2 tourist is still unable to return to their home country because of COVID-19, and their first extension is about to expire, they may need to apply for a second B2 extension.
Can you obtain a second B2 extension during COVID-19?
The chances of achieving a second B2 extension from the USCIS depend on the current status of the first nonimmigrant visa extension. Moreover, when the reasons for needing a second extension of the B2 are related to COVID-19, a different standard of analysis and consideration may be applied by the USCIS.
What if my first B2 Extension is still pending with the USCIS?
If a foreign national was present in the United States in B2 status when the coronavirus pandemic impacted life in America, they may have filed for an extension of their nonimmigrant visa with the USCIS. If this first B2 extension application is still pending with the USCIS, they can still file for a second B2 extension before the requested extension date listed on their first application, so long as they meet other requirements of the Form I-539.
If Your First B2 Extension is Approved
If someone who is present in the United States on a B2 nonimmigrant visa has been fortunate enough to have gotten their first extension approved, the visiting foreign national can file a second B2 extension. This should be done before the expiration date for their first application, as long as they meet other requirements of Form I-539. This date both appears on their I-94 and is indicated on their I-797 approval notice.
If a person who has received a first B2 extension cannot find their I-94, they can use the traveler information lookup tool provided on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. They will need to provide their full name, birth date, passport number, and country of passport issuance.
First B2 Extension Denied by the USCIS
Unfortunately if a visiting foreign national has already applied to the USCIS for a first B2 extension, and it was denied, they will have less of a chance of getting this nonimmigrant visa extended. Persons with a denied first B2 extension application cannot file a second B2 extension unless their I-94 is still valid when filing the second application.
How can you extend your B2 tourist visa with the USCIS a second time?
The process for obtaining a second extension of a B2 nonimmigrant visa from the USCIS is substantially the same as the first time you applied for your extended tourist visa. The process begins with completing the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
Many B2 holders are able to file their I-539 form online, as long as they meet the following criteria:
A written statement should accompany the Form I-539, because you will need to justify the reason why you are asking the USCIS to extend your B2 tourist visa a second time. For example, you might state that your country is not currently allowing incoming travel from outside its borders because of
Moreover, you might consider attaching any articles that you find online that support your assertion that you cannot return to your home country at this time, because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, if you have airplane tickets that you will now need to change, you might supply a copy of the old tickets to the USCIS to show that you fully intend to exit the United States as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.
The important thing is to demonstrate to the USCIS that you are acting in good faith, while obeying any new regulations established because of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the filing fee, you should also provide proof of financial independence, as well as a copy of your I-94 visitor information card.
Most of all, do not worry. We will all get through this phenomenon in history. If you need help you can contact a B2 extension immigration lawyer.