Visitor’s Visa Extension due to CoronaVid

By March 23, 2020Uncategorized

Travelers enter the United States for visits either through a visitor’s visa or under a Visa Waiver Treaty (also known as ESTA, since they have to register online before travelling). In either case, everyone got stuck (Stung? ) by Covid and travel restrictions beyond their visa’s allotted time. What does this do to their status?
Here is my perspective:
Timing:
CoronaVid, travel advisory and airplane schedules are changing every day. So I would wait until closer to the the visa expiry date.
The Law:
B-1 visitors are advised to file an extension on form I-539
VWP and Satisfactory Departure: According to 8CFR § 217.3 9 9 (a) “If an emergency prevents an alien admitted under this part from departing from the United States within his or her period of authorized stay, the district director having jurisdiction over the place of the alien’s temporary stay may, in his or her discretion, grant a period of satisfactory departure not to exceed 30 days. If departure is accomplished during that period, the alien is to be regarded as having satisfactorily accomplished the visit without overstaying the allotted time.”

Many Field Offices and CBP offices are stamping the passport for 30 days extension.

Problems with the Law:

Obviously the law did not anticipate the Covid pandemic. The extension of B-1 visa via I-539 form is expensive and takes forever for the Government to decide. There is a chance, however unlikely at this stage, of a denial, impacting future travel. Note: File online, Citizenship and Immigration Service is relaxing those blue ink signature requirements

Satisfactory Departure is good for 30 days only and making an infopass appointment is very hard.

We have been hearing that Citizenship and Immigration Service might grant status without any filing until this crisis is over. We have not heard anything from Citizenship and Immigration Service yet