When COVID-19 hit the United States, and safer at home orders were issued by the states and local governments, the initial thinking was that everything would reopen by the Fourth of July. Of course, that did not happen.
Therefore, if you were in the United States on a travel visa, you probably submitted an application to extend your B2 nonimmigrant visa and planned to return to your home country before it ever expired. Unfortunately, Summer 2020 has come and gone with few changes to restrictions. Many schools have gone remote, and businesses and transportation services are still highly controlled.
1. B2 Nonimmigrant Tourist Visa
Having B2 status means that a foreigner 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. Foreigners 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 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.
2. Chances of Obtaining a Second B2 Extension during the 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.
If First B2 Extension Still Pending with the USCIS
If a foreigner 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 First B2 Extension Has Been Approved by the USCIS
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 foreigner 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 appears on their new I-94 which is indicated on their I-797 approval notice for their first B2 extension application.
If First B2 Extension Denied by the USCIS
Unfortunately if a visiting foreigner 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.
3. Extending 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:
Otherwise, if you need to obtain a second extension of your B2 tourist visa for yourself and others, or if you would prefer to have an immigration law attorney file the paperwork for you, you will need to submit the Form I-539 by mail.
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 COVID-19.
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 record.
Most of all, do not worry. We will all get through this unprecedented time in society. And DYgreencard is always available to help you out in your second B2 extension or other immigration-related application.