U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that Visa Waiver Program travelers who have been granted satisfactory departure will be able to apply for an additional 30-day extension of their stay in the country if they are unable to depart because of COVID-19. VWP travelers can apply for satisfactory departure by contacting the USCIS Contact Center or any CBP Port of Entry or Deferred Inspection Site.

Key Points:

  • The extension of satisfactory departure will allow VWP travelers an additional 30 days to remain in the U.S. if they are unable to depart because of COVID-19-related illness, travel restrictions or the unavailability of commercial flights. Generally, travelers must apply for satisfactory departure before the date on which their current period of admission expires. Travelers should be prepared to provide their passport number and other information if requested.
  • CBP has confirmed that applications for satisfactory departure will be accepted at any CBP Port of Entry or Deferred Inspection Site. Previously, only some CBP ports of entry were processing satisfactory departure requests. Exact protocols may differ depending on location, and applicants are encouraged to contact their local CBP port of entry or deferred inspection site before submitting an application.

BAL Analysis: VWP travelers are reminded that even though they entered the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program, remaining in the U.S. beyond the departure date on their I-94 constitutes an immigration violation that carries consequences, including ineligibility for future visa-free travel. Grants of satisfactory departure are made at the discretion of the reviewing government officer. Travelers who are unable to depart on time because of COVID-19 travel restrictions or other emergency circumstances should avail themselves of the satisfactory departure process.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2020 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact copyright@bal.com.