USCIS Updates Policies Regarding Delayed Filing of Extension of Stay and Change of Status Requests
On January 24, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an update in its policies regarding the untimely filing of extension of stay or change of status requests for nonimmigrants. Through this update, USCIS has the authority to consider excusing delays in filing under some conditions, specifically when the delay is caused by circumstances that are beyond the applicant’s or petitioner's control.
- Excusing Delays at USCIS Discretion: The update empowers USCIS to excuse a nonimmigrant's failure to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request, subject to meeting certain conditions.
- Defining Extraordinary Circumstances: The policy specifies that extraordinary circumstances encompass various scenarios, including delays caused by labor disputes such as strikes or lockouts. Delays resulting from the inability to obtain necessary labor condition application (LCA) certifications due to government funding lapses are also recognized under these extraordinary criteria.
- Fulfilling Task Force Commitment: This update fulfills a commitment outlined in the report by the H-2B Worker Protection Task Force. The report emphasizes that workers facing expiration of their admission period due to labor disputes should not face negative consequences when seeking subsequent visas or changes in immigration status. Nevertheless, the policy update will benefit all nonimmigrants in the U.S.
- USCIS Role in Visa Processes: While USCIS does not issue visas, it plays a crucial role in reviewing and approving extension of stay and change of status applications. Generally, USCIS does not approve extension requests for individuals who failed to maintain their previously corresponded status or whose status expired before the filing date. Nevertheless, USCIS may, under the specific conditions outlined above, exercise discretion to excuse the failure to file before the authorized stay period expires. Nonimmigrants or their petitioners seeking extensions or changes can now benefit from the update policy.
The USCIS update reflects and re-emphasizes the service’s commitment to fairness and flexibility in immigration processes, acknowledging that certain situations beyond the control of applicants or petitioners may warrant special consideration. It is crucial for those seeking extensions or changes in immigration status to be aware of these updates and adhere to the specified conditions outlined by USCIS.