The Visa Waiver Program or ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a program that allows citizens from certain countries (38 countries) to apply for admission to the U.S. using a simplified process. The applicant can use a web interface to answer certain questions and can be granted ESTA online. This contrasts to other countries where the applicants must go to a U.S. Consulate and apply for a B1/B2 visa. Visa waivers can be granted for a maximum of 90 days. For more information on this, please click here.
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the travel bans currently imposed on most of Europe, Iran, and China. Countries such as Canada have also closed its borders to non-citizens and permanent residents. Visitors who are in the United States at this time may find that they cannot find a way to leave the country before their current period of admission will expire. Usually, ESTA is strictly restricted to only 90 days of admission, however, in an emergency, the US government can grant a Satisfactory Departure. Please note, Satisfactory Departure is available depending on which port of entry the visitor entered the US from. Some of the main port of entries that this is available at are Boston, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and more.
Satisfactory departure is an extension of admission period and is granted only in limited cases and for serious emergencies, such as hospitalization, or conditions that cause flights to be delayed or cancelled for more than 24 hours (weather, worker strikes, etc.). Otherwise, people visiting under the Visa Waiver Program may not stay beyond their initial 90-days.
These reasons are typically:
- Hospitalization emergencies, such as getting into a serious car accident on the way to the airport to leave the USA
- Inclement weather that cancelled the outbound flight
- Airport strikes
- Catastrophe events impacting your departure area.
CBP have announced that starting on April 16, ports of entries are now allowing a second satisfactory departure application for an extension of up to 30 days, giving the applicant 60 days extension in total. Please note that an extension of satisfactory departure is not guaranteed. Please speak to an immigration counsel to see if you have the option to use satisfactory departure.
You can find key immigration information related to the Corona Virus below.
- Top 10 Covid-19 Immigration Questions
- Implications of Layoffs for employers who have employees on H-1B and/or E-3 Visas
- USCIS announces flexibility for request for evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)
- Information on Consular closures during Covid-19
- USCIS issues guidance on Remote 1-9 verification during Covid-19
- USCIS office closures due to Covid-19
- Can I apply for Unemployment Insurance Benefits while on a Visa?
- Canada/U.S. Border Closures
- USCIS announces temporary suspension of premium processing
- What can you do if your ESTA is running out?
- Travel Ban for Europe
- Stimulus Bill (All 800 pages)
- Information on Small Business Loans related to the Stimulus package
- USCIS to accept scanned/reproduced signatures instead of “wet” signatures on immigration petitions and forms
- Implications of furlough or termination if you are on a TN visa
- Does the Stimulus Bill impact my immigration status? Is there a public charge concern?
- Understanding the Stimulus Package for Small Businesses and the Paycheck Protection Program
- Small Business Administration COVID-19 Loans
- USCIS to Reuse Previously Submitted Biometrics to Process Work Permit Applications
- USCIS Temporary Office Closure Extended Until at least May 3
- SBA Loans and Public Charge Rules – Paychecks Loan Program and Economic Injury Disaster Relief Loan Program
- I am in the U.S. on H-1B visa and my employment was terminated due to the Corona virus outbreak.
- I am in the U.S. on an E-2 visa, can I apply for loans under the Stimulus Bill?
- Does Covid-19 impact my obligations as an H-1B or E-3 Employer?
- I am in the U.S. on E-2 employee visa. Can I apply for unemployment benefits due to the Coronavirus?
- I want to decrease the salary of my H-1B employee, what is the process?
- I am in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa and my employment was terminated due to the Corona virus outbreak.
- I am on an E-2 visa but cannot go back to my Consulate to Renew, what can I do?
- I had to terminate the employment of an H-1B employee due to the Corona virus outbreak. What are my obligations as an H-1B Employer?
- If I get laid off or furloughed am I still eligible to get a green card?
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