Temporary Dispensations and/or Waivers: Extension of B-1/B-2 (or Visa Waiver) status or J-1 Exchange Visitor status.
– Individuals admitted under the VWP/ESTA program who find themselves unable to depart the U.S., before their current period of admission will end because of COVID-19 related issues who were admitted to the U.S. through John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport, NJ (EWR) only can contact the Deferred Inspections office at JFK, starting Monday, March 16, 2020, Monday – Friday, 9am to 4pm ET and request Satisfactory Departure (see below) for up to 30 days. Individuals or their attorneys will need to provide the affected individual’s name, Date of Birth (DOB) and passport information at the time of the request. It may be necessary to provide the original departure flight itinerary along with the new flight itinerary.
– Satisfactory Departure may be requested if the individual’s period of stay will expire in 14 days or less from the day he or she contacts JFK Deferred Inspections. If their period of VWP/ESTA admission has expired, the decision to grant Satisfactory Departure will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
ALTERNATIVE: Apply for Satisfactory Departure from USCIS:
– There is no provision under U.S. law to extend the stay of an alien admitted under the VWP. The only form of relief for an alien admitted under the VWP who is unable to depart timely due to emergent circumstances is the exercise of Satisfactory Departure. Ports of entry (including deferred inspection locations) may be contacted by VWP travelers already in the United States who are unable to depart the United States before their authorized period of admission ends.
– Pursuant to Title 8 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 217.3(a), if an emergency prevents an alien admitted under the VWP from departing the United States within the period of authorized stay, a period of Satisfactory Departure may be granted not to exceed 30 days – provided that the request is made during the period of admission and the alien is still in status at the time of the request. If departure is made within the period of approved Satisfactory Departure, the alien is regarded as having made a timely departure without overstaying the allowed time. In emergent circumstances, requests for Satisfactory Departure may be granted if the alien is out of status but can prove the intent was to depart timely – authority to approve these cases is reserved for the Director, Field Operations, unless re-delegated locally.
– Requests for Satisfactory Departure are generally adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, in extraordinary circumstances, CBP may adjudicate requests for Satisfactory Departure.
-At this time, only Newark and JFK Airports have confirmed that CBP at these locations will adjudicate requests for Satisfactory Departure; individuals should contact their local airport (or the airport they entered though) to confirm whether that location will accept such a request. If not, individuals should submit an application to USCIS to request Satisfactory Departure to prevent a visa overstay, which can have long-term implications.
See USCIS’ Special Situations Information here: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations
"United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will 'favourably' receive and accommodate extension applications to Non-Immigrant Visa (B1, B2) holders," a senior Department of Homeland Security official said.
Typically the USCIS can extend the stay of any Non-Immigrant Visa application based on genuine and urgent conditions.
"Visitors whose visa are expiring can, of course, apply to USCIS for extensions and we are taking what I would characterize as a very appropriate view of the circumstances. For instance, wherever an extension is being requested today, and you're going to a country where the flights have been taken down you can readily be expected to be favorably received by USCIS," the officer said.
Ideally, any given Non Immigrant Visa extensions should be filed 45 days in advance but in the given dire scenario US immigration authorities will now help visitors, given the coronavirus crisis has not just impacted the US but most countries across the globe.
"Say two months ago, that would not have been the case. Earlier (before the coronavirus outbreak) if flights were available, and your visa was coming to an end, you'd have been expected to get on one of those flights and return home,' the senior official explained the US legal requirements.
With numerous international flights cancelled at the last minute and ports of entry that are shut to people returning their homeland or those who are unable to leave the United States even if they wish to go back home, special considerations will be in place.
Embassy here on Friday issued a travel advisory asking nationals to contact US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for extension of visa in the US amid travel restrictions imposed in the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic.
The advisory came in after the foreign government announced that no international commercial passenger aircraft will be allowed from USA from midnight of March 22 to March 29.