Extending Your Status
If you would like to extend your time at Carnegie Mellon beyond the end date currently approved in your visa documents, you will need to begin applying for an extension. The exact process, conditions, and limitations for extensions are determined by your visa type. Be sure to allow enough time! Check the dates on your DS-2019 to determine the end date of your current status. Remember, you are responsible for maintaining your immigration status and initiating the extension process. Below you will find information on the extension process for a different visa type.
If you are sponsored by an institution other than CMU, please contact your sponsoring institution to discuss your extension.
Extension of J-1 status is common and relatively easy to accomplish. The CMU department must agree to the extension and will send OIE the J-1 Scholar Extension Request Form along with the supporting documents. Extension requests should be sent to OIE at lest 30 days prior to the visitor's current J-1 DS-2019 program end date. Additional important information to know:
- The specific period of time being requested: The total period of a J-1 research scholar/professor's status can be no more than five years. The total period of a J-1 short-term scholar's status can be no more than six months.
- The extension end date: The new extension period must begin on the day after the current DS-2019 form ends.
- The amount and source of support: If the financial support is not from CMU, then original financial documentation must be sent to OIE before the extension can be granted.
OIE will notify the U.S. Department of State regarding the extension via the SEVIS immigration database. This extension process legally extends the scholar's J-1 status in the U.S. However, if the scholar will travel out of the U.S. during the extension period and their U.S. visa sticker is expired, they will need to apply for a new J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate to return to the U.S. to resume J-1 activities. On the other hand, if the scholar will not travel outside the U.S. during the extension period, then no J-1 entry visa is required, and the scholar does not need to apply for a new J-1 visa in their passport.
If your H-1B status will end before your employment is expected to end, you will need talk to your employer so that they can initiate an H-1B extension process for you. The process for requesting an H-1B extension is similar to the process for an initial H-1B authorization; in both cases, your department must request H-1B authorization on your behalf.
H-1B Extension Eligibility
You are eligible to request an extension of your H-1B status if you are currently in valid H-1B status and you will remain employed in a specialty occupation (a position requiring specialized knowledge and skills) with your CMU department.
Limits to Eligibility
H-1B regulations allow H-1B status to be granted up to six years, but in increments of no more than three years at any one time. Certain persons in the process of applying for US permanent residence may be eligible for extensions beyond the sixth year; otherwise, departure from the US for an aggregate of at least 12 months is required in order to re-establish H-1B eligibility.
Steps to Extending H-1B Employment Authorization
The H-1B extension process involves several steps, and may be initiated no earlier than six months before the expiration of your current authorization. Early preparation is highly advisable as it can take 2 - 3 months for the International Center to prepare and file a complete H-1B petition.
- Department initiates extension petition with the International Center. Once it is determined that an extension petition is necessary, your department will need to initiate the extension process with the International Center. The International Center will obtain the required documents and fees from your department, and contact you to update any required information to complete the extension petition.
- International Center submits the extension petition to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Your extension petition must be received by USCIS no earlier than six months and no later than the last day of your current H-1B status. Once your extension is received and receipted by USCIS, your H-1B employment authorization is considered temporarily extended for 240 days while USCIS reviews the petition. This temporary extension allows you to remain in the US and continue your employment. Note that USCIS processing times for the H-1B extension can be lengthy (approximately 8 months on average).
- Travel during USCIS Processing: Once the International Center has submitted a petition to USCIS to extend your H-1B authorization, it is essential that you do not travel outside of the US while the extension petition is being processed by USCIS. If travel is required for business or personal reasons before USCIS approves your H-1B extension, talk to your International Center advisor so that a travel plan can be developed in consultation with you and your department. In certain cases, the International Center may recommend that either you or your department pay for premium processing of your petition (see section below on "Premium Processing").
- USCIS approves the extension petition. Once USCIS approves the petition, they will send an I-797 Approval Notice to the International Center. The approval notice will indicate the dates of your H-1B employment authorization extension. You may need to present the approval notice to TSS to update your I-9 Employment Verification form, so that CMU can update your payroll information.
Premium Processing of H-1B Extensions: USCIS standard processing of H-1B petitions is extremely lengthy, taking about 8 months on average. However, USCIS offers a premium processing option that will expedite the review of an H-1B extension petition to 15 days. Premium processing may be paid by either the hiring department or the employee and will depend on school policies. However, the department must pay the premium processing fee if USCIS approval is needed by a specific time in order to ensure that the employee can remain in the US to continue lawful employment in the current position, or if the employee will need a new visa for business-related travel outside the US. However, the employee can bear the cost if a faster USCIS response is needed for personal reasons such as international travel for family trips or other non-business related activities.