Update Mar 25, 2020: A picture citing USCIS has allowed to file extensions in Coronavirus is being shared on social media widely.
We try to clear the doubts on this page and here is the picture with explanation (my comments in red):
USCIS has a special situation page which categorically says that they can allow filing extensions and change of status applications in natural disasters and other extreme situations.
This article will discuss:
Examples of Special Situations
Some of the recent cases that have been discussed on our forums:
- Return to India – H-1B petition is denied or fired by the employer – has US-born minor kid?
- H1B transfer approved with Consular processing during Coronavirus. H1B i94 has already expired and H4 extension is pending. Employer has stopped payroll.
- Aunty came to US on Jan 1st and she is in USA right now. She got her I-94 until end of March. Filing B2 extension due to coronavirus.
Attorney Advice – H1B Denied, i94 Expired
Coronavirus has created an unprecedented situation where you are not allowed to travel to home country if they have completely blocked travel like in case of India.
If your H1B has been denied after i94 expiry and you cannot leave US, R & N law immigration attorneys recommends that you file H1B to B2 visitor visa change of status with option Nunc Pro Tunc.
Listen from time 1:53 to 3:30.
Open link in new window.
You can file B2 visitor visa extension before or after current i94 expiry in Coronavirus situation.
USCIS recommends that you send documents to prove your situation and a cover letter explaining why you are applying for an extension.
There is no explicit announcement from USCIS with respect to visa extensions due to Coronavirus at this time.
But, going by the list of previous natural calamities and USCIS announcement of keeping Coronavirus medical treatment out of public charge rule, COVID-19 spread should make it to the list in good faith.
USCIS has allowed Hurricanes and California Wildfires among others as special situations.
Coronavirus has already been declared a national emergency by president Trump.
There is no specific visa type mentioned by USCIS in their special situations list.
Any visa type applicant should be able to apply as long as they can prove on paper that they were not able to exit the US due to an extreme circumstance.
You can request an EAD permit to work outside University.
You will need to fill form i765 and attach all proofs of your extreme situation.
There is no such announcement made by USCIS to automatically extend H4 EAD and L2 EAD during Coronavirus.
We will share if USCIS makes any such decision.
You can file B2 extension or change of status status application using form i539 online on USCIS website. Biometric fees will be required for each B2 application though.
There is no need to send paper application.
Sample Letter for Extension of B2 visa
As an example, I am using this situation to write this sample B2 extension letter. You can change the visa name as per your requirement.
- Parents aged 50+ from India are on a USA visit. i94 is about to expire at the end of March or April 2020.
- You want to file a B1/B2 extension using form i539. Biometric fees and appointment is required for b1/B2 visa extension.
COVER LETTER START
Subject: Extension of B2 visitor status due to Coronavirus travel ban
Kindly please allow extension of our B2 visa status under the special circumstances as listed here on USCIS page:
India has declared a Coronavirus emergency and Indian ministry of health has recommended not to travel. Here is the official letter (You should print and send it with your application to USCIS):
Open link in new window.
Keeping in view our age and the risks of contracting COVID-19, we have decided to extend our stay in the USA until Indian government has announced safe travel for its citizens.
Kindly please extend our stay.
Attorneys Request USCIS to Allow Automatic 6 Month Extension
Many well known lawyers and attorneys have requested USCIS to allow automatic 6 months extensions of all visa types.
Leon Frisco has appreciated the announcement made by ICE. USCIS has maintained an absolute silence though on automatic legal visa extensions.
Do you have more situations or questions to ask? Ask them in forums and we will help answer them to the best of our knowledge.