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Changes in Extension of Status to Non-Immigrants due to COVID-19

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS) announced Monday “various policies and procedures to improve employment opportunities for American workers during this pandemic.”

In a statement, the agency said that it “recognizes that there are challenges related to immigration due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Workers and non-immigrants – who regularly must leave the territory to reapply – can involuntarily remain in the United States – beyond their authorized period of admission due to COVID-19 – and if so, indicates DHS, they remain available some options.

Those involved in these cases can request an Extension of Stay , a document that the department assures that it currently “accepts and processes applications and petitions,” adding that many of its forms are available for submission online.

In case of filing the application “in a timely manner,” the department said that “employment authorization with the same employer will be automatically extended” and that it will be “up to 240 days after the expiration of the I-94.”

The entity indicates in its announcement that there is flexibility in the “cases of Late Applications” and that the Immigration Service “could consider delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Under current regulations and as indicated on the Special Situations page, “if a petitioner or applicant files a petition to stay or change of status (on forms I-129 or I-539) after the expiration of the period of Authorized admission, USCIS, at its own discretion, could excuse the failure to file the petition on time if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond its control, such as those that may be caused by COVID-19. ”

For these exemptions “the petitioner or applicant must present credible evidence to support her request, which USCIS will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.”

Such special situations have been used several times in the past, including during natural disasters and similar crises.

Immigration recommends reviewing the pages of forms I-129 and I-539 for specific filing and eligibility requirements for extensions of stay and status changes.

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