As the number of people immigrating to the United States of America (USA) continues to rise, it’s no surprise that the number of people seeking visitor visas to visit their loved ones has significantly increased. Visiting relatives and staying for an extended period of time can be an exciting experience, however, knowing how long they can stay can alleviate possible tension and allow for a smoother visit. In this guide, we will delve deep into how long parents can stay on a visitor visa in the USA.
Understanding the USA Visitor Visa Program
A visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa that permits foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily for business or pleasure. There are primarily two types of visitor visas: B-1 and B-2, both of which are commonly referred to as the “B Visa”. The B-1 visa category permits visitors to enter the country for business purposes, while the B-2 visa category is ideal for people visiting for tourism purposes.
Parents of US citizens or permanent residents can apply for visitor visas to visit and spend time with their family members. Parents aged 21 years and older, who are not yet a citizen of USA or a lawful permanent resident of the United States, need to obtain a B-2 visa.
How Long Can Parents Stay on a Visitor Visa in the USA?
Generally, a visitor visa will be valid for a period of six months from the date of entry. However, the permitted length of stay in the country actually varies on a case-by-case basis. When your parents arrive in the USA, they will be admitted to the country and issued an I-94 arrival/departure record. The maximum length of stay for B-2 visa holders is 180 days, but the final decision is up to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry.
If the CBP officer grants your parents a 6-month stay during their visit, they may apply for an extension of stay with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Your parents must apply for an extension before their authorized period of stay in the country expires. If they overstay their visa, they could be barred from entering the US for some time in the future.
Other Factors That Affect a Parent’s Stay on a Visitor Visa
Factors such as maintenance of valid status, compliance with specific visa requirements, and general eligibility can significantly affect the validity of the stay. For example, if the CBP officer is unsure of the purpose of the parents’ visit or has reason to suspect that they may be working or studying in the United States, their duration of stay may be limited.
Visa violations can occur when parents enter the US under a valid visitor visa but end up engaging in activities that are unrelated to their initial entry purpose (e.g. working under the table, illegally engaging in business transactions). Such violations could lead to visa status termination or even removal from the United States.
- Visitors to the US typically receive six months of stay on a B-2 visitor visa.
- The CBP officer at the port of entry decides the length of stay during their initial visit.
- An extension of stay must be applied for before the authorized period of stay expires.
- Complying with specific visa requirements and maintaining valid status is crucial to avoid expiration and removal from the United States.
Parental visits to the US on a visitor visa can be exciting, but their ability to stay will depend on the specific circumstances presented to CBP officers at the port of entry. Parents hoping to extend their stay can consult with qualified immigration attorneys or the USCIS. It is important to remain compliant while in the US to avoid issues such as removal from the country and future immigration restrictions.
Q: How long does it take for USCIS to process an application for extension of stay?
A: It may take 2-3 months for USCIS to process an extension of stay application.
Q: Can my parents travel freely while their application for extension of stay is pending with the USCIS?
A: Yes, provided the application for the extension of stay is still under review, your parents can continue to stay in the United States while their application is being processed. They should keep evidence of their application filing available.