Remember Spouse’s Visa Expiration Dates Too

There are many criteria for a happy marriage, including remembering special dates like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, mother’s name, and let’s not forget her visa expiration date.

It is very common for spouses of visa holders to have their own visas tied to their spouse’s. For example, F-1 student’s spouses have F-2 visas, and H-1B holder’s spouses have H-4 visas. As long as it is requested, a spouse’s visa is automatically approved if the main person’s visa is approved.

Having the visas tied to each other can cause potential problems though. For example, say an H-1B visa holder’s visa expired on September 1, 2011. He sought out the help of an attorney, who managed to get him an extension until September 1, 2014. The individual thought that by extending his visa, he automatically extended his wife’s as well, but unfortunately, that is untrue.

In order to extend his wife’s visa as well, he would have to file a form I-539, as well as pay an additional filing fee. Any young children would have to be filed on the same form, and would be covered by the same fee. Unfortunately, since he forgot to extend his wife’s visa, he now has to have an unpleasant conversation with his wife about how not only is she now an illegal alien and must immediately leave the country, but she will not be able to come back until she is approved for a new visa. The new visa will be more difficult to come by as well, since she technically violated her past U.S. visa by overstaying her dates.

Of course, they will be more likely to overlook the violation since her husband forgot to extend her date, and overstaying her dates was not intentionally malicious on her part. The only exception to this is if she overstayed by more than 6 months, in which case she would be subject to the “3 year” rule which prevents her from obtaining a new visa for 3 years as a result of the violation.

The basic moral is: Stay as much on top of your spouse’s visa as yours!

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