Usually, the J-1 visa or an exchange visitor visa issued to applicants who are already admitted to work, take part in educational or cultural exchange programs in the US is legal binding for the interval of the exchange period only, but with a grace period of just 30 days offered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service – NIS for the participant to prepare for returning back to his or her country of residence.
However, assuming that the situation or schedule of an applicant’s program justifies an adjustment or extension in the opinion of the responsible immigration officer, J-1 Visa can be adjusted or extended for such applicant to remain in the country longer than required. Therefore, the responsible officer can use his discretion to adjust or extend a program to the limit imposed by the regulations that is specific to a sponsor’s designation or the program category. As an evidence of the exchange program adjustment and extension, a new form DS-2019 reflecting the adjustment is issued to the participant.
In some program categories however, extensions beyond the maximum program duration are allowed for unusual or exceptional circumstances, but with the authorization from the Department of State. Therefore, the responsible officer must submit a written request that justifies the petition as well as provides necessary supporting documentation to the Department of State on behalf of the participant for approval, for such exchange program adjustment or extension to be obtained upon payment of a non-refundable sum of $246 to the United States Department of State.
You may be qualified to extend your stay if you are visiting the United States on a valid immigrant visa that has not yet expired. Exchange program adjustment or extension can be up to the maximum program duration or beyond the maximum duration of the program. You must note that there are certain procedures that you must follow for your application for exchange program adjustment to be approved.
How to Apply for Exchange Program Adjustment/Extension
1. Part of the instructions for the exchange program adjustment or extension is for you to download and fill the U, S, Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-539 which is application for the extension or change Nomination Status. You can do the downloading from the “Form” section at the website of USCIS – uscis.gov.
2. Upon completion of the form, submit it to USCIS with a filing fee of $300 in check.
3. You may be contacted by the USCIS for further documentation, information or interview. Make sure that you respond to in a timely manner. After all said and done, you will be notified by mail if and when your application for exchange program adjustment is approved.
However, your application for exchange program adjustment or extension must be forwarded to the appropriate department within a minimum of 45 days prior to the expiration of your visa as recommended by the USCIS to allow for enough time to process the extension before the expiration of your current visa.