How Long Will Your U.S. Visa Allow You to Stay in the U.S.

One common question regarding traveling to U.S. is how long can someone stay in the U.S. on a temporary (non-immigrant) visa? Is it determined on the date of the visa issuance that you received at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate or is it based on the date you enter the U.S.? And what determines that exact date which you must depart U.S.?

Each category of non-immigrant visa (temporary visa) has its own rule on how long a foreigner is permitted to stay in the U.S. soil.

Types of U.S. Temporary Visa:

For different travel purpose such as tourism, study, business, medical reasons, crew service, etc., one must apply for the corresponding visa category. Each category has a specific length of stay in the U.S.:

  • B1 Visa – visitor for business or medical treatment
    Usually 6 months. In addition, you can apply for extension of stay for another 6 months. Reason for extension must be consistent with the terms and conditions of your original status.

  • B2 Visa – visitor for pleasure, tourism, visiting friends or relatives
    Such type of visa is normally issued up from a period of 1 month to 10 years. The visitor will be allowed to stay up to 6 months each entry, but can apply to extend the stay in the U.S. even longer.

  • D Visa – crew members
    If the travel purpose is crew service, the length of stay allowed in the U.S. is maximum of 29 days. No extensions of stay or changes to another status.

  • F Visa – academic students
    Holders of this visa may remain in the U.S. as long as he/she remains enrolled, in a full-time study, or in an educational program at an approved school. Conditions include making normal progress towards completing the course of study and in compliance with all the terms of the visa category. There is a 60-day grace period to prepare to leave the United States. No extension application needed.

Visa Validity

When a non-immigrant visa was issued, the issuing post (U.S. Embassy or Consulate) will put a sticker in the visa holder’s passport. Check the issue date and expiration date. This means that you have a permission to travel from your country to a port of entry in the U.S. during the validity of your non-immigrant visa, or at any time starting from the issuance date to the last day the visa is valid.

Length of Time You May Remain in the U.S.

The length of time that you may legally remain in the U.S. starts when you arrive at your destination point of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who processes your entry upon your arrival in the U.S. will stamp your passport with a date. This marks the day 1 of your stay. Check your Visa Type/Class to know until when you may legally remain in the U.S.

Some visa categories allow the holder to apply for an extension of stay. The extension may or may not be granted depending upon the reason for extension. You must justify to USCIS why you need to extend your stay and that you still intend to return to your country after at the end of your specified visit. This extension of stay is normally applied within 3 months of coming to the U.S. The maximum duration of extension you can ask is 6 months.

In consideration to all the information above, take for example a B2 Visa (visiting U.S. for pleasure, tourism, visiting friends or relatives), the maximum you can stay in the U.S. is 1 year.


Category: US Visa

About the Author (Author Profile)

Siam Legal is a full service law firm but it has an extensive range of immigration, corporate, and real estate experience accessible to clients both domestically and internationally. It has offices strategically located throughout the major cities in Thailand including Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Samui and Phuket along with international representative offices in Australia, London and Las Vegas.


Drop your comments here:

  1. Rebecca Gardner says:

    It’s good to know that the Visa Type and Class will affect how long the holder can legally stay in the US. According to my knowledge, it’s always best to consult with an attorney if you’re unsure about the length of your Visa since it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to immigration. Your article explained the basics of Visa length in a clear way, so I appreciate you sharing this info!

    • Siam Legal International says:

      Glad we could help.


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