The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it recognizes that nonimmigrants may unexpectedly need to remain in the United States beyond their authorized periods of stay due to COVID-19 issues. If that occurs, DHS noted several available options, including applying for an extension, flexibility for late applications, and flexibility for visa waiver entrants.

DHS noted, among other things, that it can consider delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when deciding whether to excuse delays in filing documents based on extraordinary circumstances. The petitioner or applicant must submit credible evidence to support the request, which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will evaluate on a case-by-case basis. DHS noted that such evaluations have been used in the past, “including for natural disasters and similar crises.” DHS also noted that if an emergency (such as COVID-19) prevents the departure of a Visa Waiver Program entrant, USCIS in its discretion may grant a period of “satisfactory departure” for up to 30 days. USCIS can grant an additional 30-day period of satisfactory departure if warranted.

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