Why is our extension of status request taking so long? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States, out of our offices in Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Missouri, and San Diego, California. I mentioned Washington, D.C. first because a friend of a friend reached out wanting to know, his daughter had an au pair who’s on a J-1 visa and had filed for an extension and was wondering why is the extension taking so long. And we get those requests all the time. So for non-immigrants, people here on a B-1, B-2, a J-1, some other non-immigrant visas, sometimes they’ll file for an extension of status. And that is to extend their status beyond the time that they were admitted into the United States.
When you enter on a non-immigrant visa, for the most part, unless it’s a student visa, you’re given a deadline by which to leave the United States. Might be six months, might be longer. And sometimes, people want to file for an extension of status. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the extension of status is, for all intents and purposes, dead. So in the old days when Adele and I would do extensions of status, you’d get a receipt notice back in about two weeks and you’d get it approved in about four or six weeks. We are so far gone from those glory days that the extension of status, for now, for all intents and purposes, is indeed dead.
Because first of all, they take seven or eight months to approve it. And if you’re asking for a six-month extension, that means you’re going to get approved after the time has already expired and it’s time for you to go. The long and the short of it is there are just way too many problems that occur when you file for an extension of status. Now, it’s not to say that it is always denied, but it’s certainly not something that you can hang your hat on. And most importantly, it’s going to complicate your immigration history. It’s going to complicate your immigration history with USCIS. And it’s going to complicate your immigration history, more importantly, with the state department. That is that the state department doesn’t like it when people say they’re going to come for a certain amount of time, and then once they’re here, ask for more time.
So we actively discourage people from filing for extensions of status. We actively discourage people. And in fact, we won’t file them. And the reason we won’t file them is because we’ve had too many instances where people say, “Jim, we won’t be mad if it takes too long. Jim, we won’t be mad if the extension gets denied.” And then when the extensions take too long and they ultimately get denied, then the clients end up getting mad at us, even though they promised us that they wouldn’t.
So long and the short of it is you should probably think seriously about leaving at the time that you promised to leave, following the law, and you’re just not going to be able to get an extension approved. And you’re sure not going to be able to get it approved expeditiously, quickly, in a timely fashion.
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