• Extensions for Non-Immigrants During the Icelandic Volcano Flight Delays
  • April 28, 2010 | Author: Leigh N. Ganchan
  • Law Firm: Haynes and Boone, LLP - Houston Office
  • USCIS has issued a notice to assist those non-immigrants stranded in the U.S. due to European airport closures resulting from the Icelandic volcano eruption. The notice addresses those who are about to exceed their authorized stay in the U.S., which is noted on their I-94 or I-94W arrival/departure record.

    Those who have entered the U.S. under a visa are directed to contact their local USCIS office and to file an extension of status application before their authorized stay expires. Those eligible to file an extension of status application are those who were lawfully admitted into the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa and passport, which remain valid, and who have not committed a crime that renders them ineligible for a visa or violated the conditions of admission. Those who entered under the following categories may not apply for an extension of status: Visa Waiver Program, Crewmembers (“D” visa), in transit with and without visa (“C” visa and “TWOV”), fiancé visa holders (“K” visa) and government informants under the “S” visa.

    Foreign nationals in the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program are advised to contact either the Customs and Border Protection office at an airport or a local USCIS office. The Visa Waiver provisions allow non-immigrants facing an emergency that prevents them from departing from the U.S. within the period of authorized stay (usually a maximum of 90 days) to apply to the government for a grant of a period of “satisfactory departure” not to exceed 30 days. If departure is accomplished during that period, the alien will be regarded as having satisfactorily accomplished the visit without overstaying the allotted time. The Department of Homeland Security has provided guidance to all offices as to how to assist foreign national travelers requiring extension of stay assistance.

    Failure to obtain the appropriate extension can result in a foreign national being barred from reentering the U.S. or subject them to removal (“deportation”) proceedings. Non-immigrants should apply for an extension or satisfactory departure as far in advance as possible to avoid a negative entry on their immigration record.