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How can I extend my stay as a Visa Waiver?


Q.My wife and I were visiting the United States as tourists (visa waiver) when my wife gave birth to a premature baby girl. The baby is still in the hospital and might need follow-up care for a long time. We prefer to receive this treatment in the United States since it would not be good to have our baby go on an airplane. How can we stay here? Can we work?

A. Your visit to the United States under the visa waiver program is limited to 90 days, unless you can convince the INS downtown to extend your stay by up to 30 days in emergency situations.

You should discuss the possibility of applying for a B-2 visa in Mexico or Canada with an US Immigration attorney. You could also apply for a B-2 visa at the US Embassy in Japan. Write a short letter explaining your situation. Include a copy of your baby's US birth certificate. Get a letter from your baby's doctor explaining her current condition and a recommendation that the baby not travel. Also include proof that your wife paid for her hospital visit with private insurance or cash. If your baby has health insurance that is covering the cost of treatment, also include this evidence. In addition, include proof that you have adequate funds to remain in the US without working. A B-2 visa does not permit employment. Finally, if you have employment in Japan obtain a letter from your employer indicating that you have been given a long-term leave of absence and that the company looks forward to your return. Have this letter indicate your salary, job title, and length of employment.

US temporary working visa options (brief descriptions):

  1. H-1B if you have a BA degree or the equivalent (3 years for each year of college you are missing) and a job offer in the US that requires that degree. 6 year limit.
  2. L if you have been employed by a foreign company for at least 1 year during the past 3 years as a manager, executive, or someone with specialized knowledge, and that company wants to transfer you to the United States to either establish a branch office or work at an existing office. 5 to 7 year limit.
  3. E-1 if you are a manager or someone with "essential skills" for a US company that has substantial trade between the US and Japan. Substantial trade looks at the dollar amount, the frequency of trade, and the volume of trade. Unlimited length.
    E-2 if you want to make a "substantial investment" in a US business (around $100,000) and employ US workers, or you are offered a job as a manager or a job that requires essential skills by a company that is owned by at least 51% Japanese nationals who do not have green cards. That company would also have to meet the substantial investment test. Unlimited length.

US green card options:

  1. Your US citizen child cannot sponsor you for a green card until she is 21 years old.

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