U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is now accepting requests for satisfactory departure from travelers who entered the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) under an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and are unable to depart on time because of COVID-19.

Satisfactory departure allows ESTA travelers to request an extension of the I-94 departure date of up to 30 days in emergency situations, so that they do not exceed their authorized period of stay.

Procedure for remote Satisfactory Departure request:

  • ESTA travelers may request satisfactory departure remotely by contacting the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. Travelers will be asked to send an email to the Contact Center and include information about their travel dates, reason for requesting satisfactory departure, copies of their passport biographic pages and contact information.
  • The Contact Center will forward the e-mail to the appropriate USCIS Field Office where a designated “Satisfactory Departure” officer will process the request and email a decision to the traveler.

Background: On Monday, USCIS reiterated its discretion to allow flexibility for certain applicants, including granting satisfactory departure for up to 30 days to ESTA travelers who are unable to depart before their I-94 departure date because of an emergency such as COVID-19. The announcement also stated that if an ESTA traveler who is granted a 30-day satisfactory departure is unable to depart within that time because of continued COVID-19-related issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily grant an additional 30 days of satisfactory departure.

BAL Analysis: The procedures allow ESTA travelers to request satisfactory departure remotely with USCIS. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also reviewing satisfactory departure requests, but procedures vary according to location, and requests are only accepted within days of the traveler’s I-94 departure date.

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

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