USCIS Will Consider Excusing Late-Filed Applications on a Case-by-Case Basis; Offers Possibility of Additional 30-Day Extension For ESTA Travelers
On April 13, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will consider excusing applicants who submit late fillings to extend or change their immigration status if the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances, such as those that may be caused by COVID-19. Explanations for late filings will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the length of the delay must be proportionate to the circumstances. To date, USCIS has declined to offer automatic extensions of stay to foreign nationals whose travel plans or immigration statuses have been disrupted due to COVID-19.
In addition, travelers who entered the United States on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) / Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) may request a 30-day extension of their deadline to depart the US, in a process known as “satisfactory departure.” USCIS grants these requests on a discretionary basis. VWP/ESTA travelers who have already received a 30-day extension but were unable to depart within the extended period because of circumstances related to COVID-19 may request an additional 30-day extension from USCIS.