The Department of homeland security (DHS) recognizes that there are problems associated with immigration issues as a result of a pandemic of mers noted on the website of citizenship and US immigration services (USCIS). April 13 was published new information on how to extend or change status of stay in the country during a pandemic. Here’s what you need to know.
Generally, nonimmigrants must leave the United States before the expiration of the period allowed to them visit. However, the Service recognizes that at the present time immigrants can stay in the United States after the statutory deadline due to pandemic COVID-19. What to do?
Apply for extension of status. Most of nonimmigrants may apply for extension of stay (EOS) or change of status (COS). USCIS continues to accept and process applications and petitions, many of the forms are available for filing online.
Submit the application on time. Non-immigrants generally do not receive the status of unlawful presence while their timely filed application is pending. Where applicable, a work permit with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of preliminary approval are automatically renewed for up to 240 days after expiration of I-94. It is possible in the case when the application for extension of stay is served on time.
USCIS reminds petitioners and the appellants that the Service is able to take into account delays caused by the pandemic COVID-19, when deciding whether to justify the late filing of documents on the basis of extraordinary circumstances.
Under current rules, if a person is applying for extension of stay or a request for change of status (forms I-129 or I-539) after the expiration of the allowed period of admission, the USCIS has the discretion to justify the late filing, if it happened due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of persons (e.g., caused by COVID-19). The delay should match the circumstances. The applicant must submit credible evidence in support of its request that USCIS will assess in each specific case. These exceptions were used in the past at different times, including in cases of natural disasters and similar crises.
For more information on late requests for an extension or change of status follow the link 1 and link 2. In addition, read the pages of forms I-129 and I-539 to learn about the specific requirements for submitting applications and the criteria for extensions of stay and change of status.
Special conditions for those who come on the VWP program. Participants in the program Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are not eligible to extend their stay or change status. However, under current rules, if an emergency situation (for example, COVID-19) prevents the departure of VWP participant, USCIS in its discretion may provide a period for departure for up to 30 days. You can read more here. For those participants in the VWP, which already received a reprieve and can’t leave the U.S. within this 30-day period due to issues related COVID-19, USCIS has the authority to temporarily provide an additional 30-day period to leave the country. To request a deferment, please call the Contact center USCIS.
For the latest information related to the impact of the pandemic COVID-19 on immigration issues in the United States, please refer to page uscis.gov/coronavirus.