What is a Satisfactory Departure?
If you entered the U.S. on ESTA and you are unable to leave the U.S. due to emergency (such as the COVID-19 pandemic or for example a medical emergency), you may request what is called a Satisfactory Departure. Both USCIS and CBP have authority to grant you an additional 30-day period of Satisfactory Departure (which basically means that you can stay in the U.S. for additional 30 days beyond your I-94 expiration date). Please note that it is not possible to extend your status in the U.S. if you entered on ESTA and if you need to stay past your I-94, applying for a Satisfactory Departure is your only option.
How do I qualify for a Satisfactory Departure?
You will basically have to show that you are unable to leave the U.S. because of an emergency (such as COVID-19) and you are unable to leave the U.S. through no fault of your own (e.g. all flights from the U.S. to your home country have been cancelled, your home country closed the borders, etc.).
Please note that the Satisfactory Departure is completely discretionary and USCIS/CBP don’t not have to grant it.
How can I apply for a Satisfactory Departure?
You can either apply for a Satisfactory Departure through USCIS or through CBP (the port through which you came to the U.S.).
1. Applying through USCIS
You can only make the request within 10 days before your I-94 expires. You will have to call USCIS and explain why you think you qualify for the Satisfactory departure (e.g. all flights to your home country are being cancelled). USCIS will put your request in a queue and you should receive a call back within 3 business days – USCIS will then schedule an in person appointment at a local USCIS office. You will need to attend an in person interview and the USCIS officer at a local field office will make a final decision on the request.
2. Applying through CBP
Each CBP port has its own procedure but if you entered through some larger airport, you should be able to contact the port via email and make the request via email. Most CBP ports also specify the time period during which you can apply for the Satisfactory Departure (e.g. 14 days before your I-94 expires). You should submit documentation and explain why you think you qualify for the Satisfactory departure.
Please see our other blog post on Satisfactory departure when you click here.
Please click here to read more about I-94 and what I94 means.
Please note that if you entered on a visa, you would not need to apply for a Satisfactory departure and you could apply for an extension of status.
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