The spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought about a variety of changes to everyday life for many people across the country. The Department of Homeland Security recognizes this for immigrants as well who need the assistance of USCIS offices while they are (DHS) temporarily closed. It is because of this that DHS is considering different policies and procedures to help U.S. workers during this time.
Generally, individuals who are in the country on a visa are required to leave when their period of authorization expires. However, COVID-19 may unexpectedly call for them to stay in the United States past this designated period of time. It is because of this that the following opportunities are available for these individuals:
- Apply for an extension. The consequences of staying longer in the country than allowed can be mitigated by filing an application for extension of stay (EOS) or a change in status (COS). Throughout this time, USCIS is still accepting and processing these applications and petitions. The forms are available online to file.
- Nonimmigrants generally do not accrue unlawful presence if their EOS/COS is pending if they filed within a timely manner. If applicable, employment authorization can automatically be extended for up to 240 days after the I-94 expires if the extension of stay is filed on time.
- Flexibility for late applications. USCIS considers delays for petitioners and applicants due to COVID-19 when deciding if they should excuse delays in filing documents based on extraordinary circumstances.
- Flexibility for visa waiver entrants. Usually, Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants are not able to extend their stay or change their status. However, under the current circumstances, if COVID-19 is preventing the departure of the individual, they may be granted a period of satisfactory departure for up to 30 days by USCIS.
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The Law Offices of Cheryl R. David practices immigration law throughout NYC. Immigration is a sensitive issue, which is why you should consider a compassionate, experienced, and aggressive immigration attorney who will guide you every step of the way. If you have questions about your particular matters regarding immigration please do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your circumstances and options.