USCIS Updates: COVID-19 Delays in Extension of Status & Change of Status Filings
On April 13, 2020, USCIS released a note recognizing that there are immigration-related challenges as a direct result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and some delays in extension/change of status. Generally, nonimmigrants must depart the United States before their authorized period of admission expires. However, USCIS recognizes that nonimmigrants may unexpectedly remain in the United States beyond their authorized period of stay due to COVID-19. Should this occur, you must apply for extension of stay (EOS) or change in status (COS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to accept and process applications and petitions even with the USCIS being closed to the public.
If you file your extension in a timely manner the Nonimmigrants generally do not accrue unlawful presence while the timely-filed, non-frivolous EOS/COS application is pending. Where applicable, employment authorization with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration when an extension of stay request is filed on time.
If you are not able to file in a timely manner USCIS is accepting some flexibility for late applications. USCIS reminds petitioners and applicants that it can consider delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when deciding whether to excuse delays in filing documents based on extraordinary circumstances. This flexibility has been used at various times in the past, including for natural disasters and similar crises.
If a applicant or petitioner files an extension of stay or change of status request (on Forms I-129 or I-539) after the authorized period of admission expires, USCIS, in its discretion, may excuse the failure to file on time if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, such as those that may be caused by COVID-19. As a proof you must show that the length of delay must be commensurate with the circumstances and the petitioner or applicant must submit credible evidence to support their request.
There is also flexibility for Visa Waiver Entrants. Usually the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants are not eligible to extend their stay or change status. However, under current regulations, if an emergency (such as COVID-19) prevents the departure of a VWP entrant, USCIS in its discretion may grant a period of satisfactory departure for up to 30 days. For those VWP entrants already granted satisfactory departure and unable to depart within this 30-day period because of COVID-19 related issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily provide an additional 30-day period of satisfactory departure.
Our office can help you and your family with instructions and information regarding Extension/Change of Status during this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any immigration related questions or concerns, as we are happy to provide free initial consultations.
The Law Office of Nicholas J. Mireles is an experienced Los Angeles based U.S.Immigration law firm has been practicing immigration law since 2013. Our background makes us uniquely well suited to help you with any type of issue relating to your immigration status.
Law Office of Nicholas J. Mireles, APC
411 West 7th St. Ste 310 - Los Angeles, CA 90014