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Long-term stay - extending your 90-day visa in the USA

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“How would someone extend a 90-day stay in the U.S.? I am a green card holder, and my parents are coming out for the holidays and into the New Year. I would like to arrange a few trips in the country while they are here and was wondering if they stayed beyond the 90 days, would this be a problem?  Ireland is a dreary place in the wintertime and I want them to be out here.  Can they say into the spring, and how do I arrange this?”

IF your parents want to extend their upcoming stay in the U.S. beyond the 90 days authorized by the visa waiver program, which allows people to enter the U.S. visa free, then they’ll have to apply for a B2 tourist visa at the American Embassy in Dublin prior to arriving here.

The process of applying for a B-2 visa is pretty straightforward and takes only a matter of days to complete from start to finish. Each application costs $140; information on how to get started is available at http://dublin.usembassy.gov/how_to_apply.html.

B-2 visas are valid for 10 years. That doesn’t mean a holder can remain in the U.S. for that length of time; rather, the same visa can be used for multiple entries for 10 years.
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When B visa holders present themselves for entry into the U.S., a Customs and Border Patrol officer will often grant an authorized stay of six months.  The date of departure will be stamped on the I-94 card that non-immigrants must use; the bottom part of the card must be surrendered at departure to ensure the holder left by the authorized date.

Should your parents receive the six-month authorization from the inspecting officer, that will carry them well through the winter months.  When they are asked by the officer, as they will be, about the purpose of their trip, they should explain that they’ll be traveling within the U.S. and enjoying themselves with their daughter and are expecting to stay for more than 90 days, but less than six months.

If for some reason they are only issued with a three-month stay, B visas can be extended.  They’d have to file for an extension with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service; full details on how to do this are at http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/C1en.pdf.

Those entering the U.S. using the visa waiver program are allowed to stay for 90 days only.  Extending for a further period of time is not permitted, except in cases of emergency or events out of the traveler’s control.


Here’s how the U.S. Embassy website in Dublin describes extensions of a 90-day stay:

“If an emergency prevents you -- if admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) -- from departing the U.S. within your period of authorized stay, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) district director having jurisdiction over the place of your temporary stay may, at their discretion, grant a period of satisfactory departure not to exceed 30 days.

“If departure is accomplished during that period, you will be regarded as having satisfactorily accomplished the visit without overstaying the allotted time. Satisfactory departure is only granted for real emergencies, such as hospitalization, conditions that cause flights to be cancelled or delayed for more than 24 hours (i.e. weather, worker strikes, etc. etc.) Otherwise, people visiting under the VWP may not extend their period of stay beyond their initial 90 days.

“If you are unable to go to a USCIS office to obtain satisfactory departure because your overstay is due to a weather-related emergency and you are staying close to the airport until boarding, we suggest you keep a copy of any evidence you have of the emergency situation in order to resolve any questions about the reason for your overstay the next time you come to the U.S. This could include cancelled tickets, a statement from an airline about flight cancellations, including newspaper or other reports of significant storms.”

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