USCIS Updates Delays in Extension and Change of Status Requests

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a significant update to its Policy Manual, providing flexibility for nonimmigrants facing challenges in timely filing extension of stay or change of status requests. The update outlines that, under specific conditions, USCIS may excuse delays if they result from extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the applicant or petitioner.

Let us go over some of the key points of this announcement. 

Excusing Delays Due to Extraordinary Circumstances

USCIS now has the discretion to excuse a nonimmigrant’s failure to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request if the delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances.

Extraordinary circumstances may include, but are not limited to, delays due to a work-related slowdown, stoppage, strike, lockout, or other labor dispute. Additionally, the inability to obtain a certified labor condition application or temporary labor certification due to a government funding lapse is recognized as an extraordinary circumstance.

Commitment to H-2B Worker Protection Task Force Report

This Policy Manual update fulfills a commitment made in the report by the H-2B Worker Protection Task Force, specifically highlighted in Action 1.1.

The report emphasizes that a worker staying in the U.S. after the expiration of their admission period due to a workplace labor dispute will not face negative consequences solely for these reasons when applying for a subsequent visa or a change of immigration status.

USCIS’s Role in Adjudicating Extension and Change of Status Requests

While USCIS doesn’t issue visas, it plays a crucial role in adjudicating extension of stay and change of status requests.

Nonimmigrants in the U.S. admitted for a specified period or their petitioners may request an extension of their admission period, allowing them to continue activities permitted under their nonimmigrant classification. Additionally, certain nonimmigrants or their petitioners may seek to change their status to another nonimmigrant classification.

General Rule for Extension and Change of Status Requests

USCIS typically doesn’t approve extensions or changes of status for individuals who failed to maintain their previously accorded status or whose status expired before the filing date of the application or petition.

Discretionary Excuse for Failure to File Before Expiry

In certain conditions, USCIS, at its discretion, may excuse the failure to file before the period of authorized stay expired.

This policy update reflects USCIS’s commitment to providing flexibility in the face of unexpected challenges for nonimmigrants seeking extensions or changes in their stay status. It acknowledges the impact of extraordinary circumstances and aims to mitigate negative consequences for individuals facing delays beyond their control.