Extensions and Changes of Status for Nonimmigrants During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On April 13, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made an announcement impacting immigration services as it relates to COVID-19.

In their announcement, the DHS stated, “Generally, nonimmigrants must depart the United States before their authorized period of admission expires. However, we recognize that nonimmigrants may unexpectedly remain in the United States beyond their authorized period of stay due to COVID-19.”

If you are a nonimmigrant in Wisconsin, the DHS notes the following considerations to help avoid consequences of an expired admission in the U.S.:

  • Apply for an extension in a timely manner.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is continuing to accept and process applications and petitions. Many nonimmigrants can mitigate the immigration consequences of COVID-19 by timely filing an application for extension of status (EOS) or change of status (COS) with USCIS.

    Generally, nonimmigrants do not accrue unlawful presence if they have timely filed and if they have an extension of status (EOS) or change of status (COS) application pending.

    Note that petitions for extensions of status with the same employer, subject to the same terms and conditions of the prior approval (for example, H-1B extensions) are automatically extended for up to 240 days after I-94 expiration, when an extension of stay request is filed on time.

  • If you missed your deadline to file for an extension of status or change of status in the U.S., USCIS may be flexible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • USCIS may excuse a nonimmigrant’s failure to timely file an extension or change of status request, if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances, such as the coronavirus pandemic. The petitioner or applicant must submit credible evidence to support their request, which USCIS will evaluate in its own discretion on a case-by-case basis.

  • Visa Waiver entrants may be granted an extension in a rare move by USCIS.
  • Typically, Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants are not eligible to extend their stay or change status. However, for the time being, if an emergency such as COVID-19 prevents the departure of a VWP entrant, USCIS may grant a period of satisfactory departure for up to 30 days. If you are an entrant and were already granted the 30- day extension, USCIS has the authority to provide an additional 30-day extension.

For more information, visit here.

To see the entirety of the DHS message, visit here.

More questions on immigration during COVID-19?

For questions about changes or extension of nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact the immigration lawyers at Murphy Desmond S.C. at 608.270.5550 or infoimmigration@murphydesmond.com.

Published April 14, 2020