This is part of a series of posts aimed at informing those that can or have been potentially affected by changes in U.S. government immigration policy in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We hope that you and your family are safe during these difficult and uncertain times.
As of the time of writing, the United States has not issued travel restrictions on international departures. However, countries around the world are closing their borders entirely or imposing strict restrictions on who can enter, making it impossible for many to safely return to their home country.
To the dismay of nonimmigrants nationwide, the United States government has not announced an automatic extension of status for nonimmigrants who are currently inside the country, exacerbating the anxieties of hundreds of thousands.
It is unlikely that the United States government will announce an automatic extension of status for nonimmigrants who find themselves effectively stuck inside the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Luckily, the USCIS is still accepting applications/petitions and there are several ways that you can take control of your situation and extend you or your family’s stay in the United States:
- Extension of Status (Form I-539 or Form I-129) — Applying for a continuation of stay under your current nonimmigrant classification with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). While the application for an extension of status is pending, you are legally authorized to remain in the United States.
- Change of Status (Form I-539 or Form I-129) — Applying for a change of your nonimmigrant classification to a different nonimmigrant classification with the USCIS, which will result in the issuance of a new Form I-94 extending your stay. While the application for a change of status is pending, you are legally authorized to remain in the United States.
- Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) — Applying for an adjustment of your nonimmigrant classification to permanent residency with the USCIS. While the application of adjustment of status is pending, you are legally authorized to remain within the United States.
Generally, a nonimmigrant’s status must be unexpired at the time of filing to pursue either of the three options mentioned. However, there are many exceptions that may or may not apply depending on your situation.
There are significant consequences for improperly preparing or wrongly filing these applications, e.g., accrual of unlawful presence, cancellation of visas, denial of cases, requests for evidence, determinations of fraud/misrepresentation, removal proceedings etc… Behind each application lies an intricate web of regulations, policy, and case law that will affect your eligibility for the benefit you are applying for.
As always, we strongly recommend consulting with an experienced immigration attorney who can help place you in the best position to obtain any benefits and avoid pitfalls that can jeopardize your future in the United States. This allows you to focus your energy on protecting your family and yourself during these trying times.
What is the best way to contact your office if I need immediate legal advice regarding my immigration status?
You can e-mail us 24/7 at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns or call our office at (305) 448-0077 from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M, Monday through Friday. You can also reach us 24/7 by visiting our website at www.salehlaw.com/contact and sending us your contact information.
We promise to accommodate you as soon as possible under the circumstances so that we can provide you with expert immigration advice tailored to the specific needs of each individual, family, or business. We are professionally trained to assess, adapt, and overcome in times of crisis.