How to extend or change your status in the U.S. during quarantine: Update from USCIS
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes that there are problems related to immigration issues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website notes. On May 1, 2020, an update on how to extend or change residency status during a pandemic was published, along with information about the expanded processing of some immigration requests. Here’s what you need to know.
As a general rule, nonimmigrants must leave the United States before their authorized period of visitation expires. However, the Service recognizes that nonimmigrants may currently remain in the United States after the allotted time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. What to do.
Apply for an extension of status. Most nonimmigrants can apply for an extension of stay (EOS) or change of status (COS). USCIS continues to accept and process applications and petitions, and many of the forms are available for filing online.
Submit this application on time. Nonimmigrants generally do not receive unlawful presence status while their timely filed application is pending. Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same conditions and pre-approval conditions, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after the I-94 expires. This is possible if the application for extension of stay is submitted on time.
USCIS reminds petitioners and applicants that the Service may consider delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when deciding whether to justify a late filing based on extraordinary circumstances.
Under current regulations, if an individual files an extension of stay or change of status request (on Forms I-129 or I-539) after the allowed admission period has expired, USCIS, in its discretion, may excuse the late filing if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the individual’s control (such as those caused by COVID-19). The length of the delay must be appropriate to the circumstances. The applicant must provide credible evidence to support his or her request, which USCIS will evaluate on a case-by-case basis. These special situations have been used at various times in the past, including natural disasters and similar crises.
For more information on late renewal or change of status requests, go to link 1 and link 2. Also, see the I-129 and I-539 pages for specific filing requirements and criteria for extensions of stay and changes of status.
Special conditions for those who come under the VWP program. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participants may not extend their stay or change their status. However, under current regulations, if an emergency situation (such as COVID-19) prevents a VWP participant from leaving, the USCIS at its discretion may grant a period of departure for up to 30 days. You can read more here. For those VWP participants who have already received a deferral and cannot leave the U.S. within that 30-day period due to COVID-19 issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily grant an additional 30-day period to leave the country. To request an extension, you must call the USCIS Contact Center.
Expanded response to requests
Also, USCIS has made a statement that the Service is expanding its response options to help applicants. Specifically, the requests in question are:
Requests for Evidence (Requests for Evidence);
Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
Notices of Intent to Deny;
Notices of Intent to Revoke (Notices of Intent to Revoke);
Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers; and
Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
The flexibility applies to the above documents if the issuance date specified in the request, notice, or decision is between March 1 and July 1, 2020, inclusive.
USCIS will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the established request or notice date before taking any action. USCIS will review Form I-290B received within 60 calendar days of the decision date.
For the latest information related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigration issues in the United States, see uscis.gov/coronavirus.