Here’s what foreigners with tourists visas can and cannot do if they want to stay longer

February 19, 2020 10:20 pm0 commentsViews: 51


Foreign citizens who enter the United States with tourism or business visas for temporary stays sometimes want to remain beyond the periods authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry.

Whether there are issues that make it impossible for them to return home, changes in their non-immigrant visa status, family petitions or tying the knot with U.S. citizens, there are many reason for trying to extend their stay legally.

El Nuevo Herald interviewed immigration attorney Angel Leal on how to remain legally in the United States after entering on a visitor’s visa. This is an edited version of the conversation.


U.S. visas for visitors — B-1 for Business and B-2 for Tourism — are restricted to foreigners who have an uninterrupted intention to return to a home abroad that they have not abandoned. It does not tolerate an immigration intention both when applying for a visa abroad and when entering the country.

If there’s suspicion that a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the country intends to stay, they can be denied a visa or entry.

The application requires foreigners to show that they plan to return to their countries because of their homes, families and other factors. It is also important to stick to the places that tourist declare they plan to visit when interviewed by CBP at ports of entry.

In conclusion, it is illegal to use a tourist visa if the plan is to immigrate because it violates the terms of their admission.

Immigration officials look closely at the conduct during the first 90 days of the stays of foreigners who arrive on tourist visas.

If they notice that during that period a visitor studied or worked without a permit or gave hints of establishing a home in the United States, he or she runs the risk of being accused of immigration fraud.

It is important to be very careful during those first 90 days, even though most B-2 visa holders are commonly given a six-month length of stay.


An extension to remain in the United States longer than authorized is for short-term issues, such as a medical emergency, recovery from such an event, being unable to fly, a family problem or a situation where the foreigner plans to return home but needs more time to resolve an unforeseen issue.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recommends that those who wish to extend their stay apply at least 45 days before the authorized stay expires. (Nationals of participating countries who enter with the Visa Waiver Program cannot apply to extend.

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