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The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”)announced it recognizes that nonimmigrants may unexpectedly need to remain in the United States beyond their authorized periodsof stay due to COVID-19 issues.

 In that context, the agency 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. 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.

In addition, on May 1, 2020, USCIS announced that it will be extending the deadline to respond to certain agency requests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Petitioners can submit their response within an EXTRA 60 CALENDAR DAYS from the original due date set forth in the request or notice. This extension covers Requests For Evidence (“RFEs”) and Notices of Intent to Deny (“NOIDs”) issued between May 2, 2020 and July 1, 2020.

This is the second extension announced by USCIS in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous extension applied to notices issued between March 1, 2020, and May 1, 2020.

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