Q: My sister came to visit me using her B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa. She was supposed to depart from the US on April 28th, 2020 but her flight got cancelled. Her 6- month authorized stay will be expiring on May 28th, 2020. She has been trying to get a return flight home but to date, nothing seems to available. My sister is worried that she will end up overstaying her authorized stay. She also does not know when she will be able to book a flight to return home. What should she do?
A: It is advisable to file for extension of her B-2 Visitor status. If she were to file for the extension, please ensure that the extension application is filed prior to the expiration of her current status on May 28th, 2020. Extensions of B-2 Visitor status are permitted for up to a maximum of 6 months. The Form to use is Form I-539 Application for to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status. The filing fee is a total of $370.00 with an additional $85.00 for biometrics. She should include a copy of her passport, Visitor Visa, a letter explaining the reason for the extension, evidence that flights to her home country are unavailable and also evidence of ability to support herself during the period of the extension sought.
Q: I am a Lawful Permanent Resident. I recently applied for a Re-Entry Permit because I need to travel to my home country as my father does not have a care giver and he is ill with throat cancer. My mother passed away leaving my father to fend for himself. I am his only daughter. The problem is my biometrics appointment scheduled in April 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19. I am waiting for the biometrics office to reopen but was informed that it will remain close until further notice. What do I need to do to provide my biometrics for the Re-Entry Permit so that I can depart the US as soon as possible?
A: As of March 18th, USCIS has temporarily suspended all biometrics appointments to avoid contact with the public. The information on the website further states that when USCIS resumes normal operation, USCIS will automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments due to the temporary office closure and if you do not receive a new appointment notice by mail within 90 days, call 800-375-5283. If you are unable to wait for this because of emergency, please contact USCIS at 800-375-5283 to request for emergency services assistance. In the USCIS website, it states that USCIS will provide services for ‘limited situations on a case by case basis’. To schedule an emergency appointment, it directs applicants to contact the USCIS Contact Center. The USCIS Contact Center information provides that applicants in the US may speak with a USCIS customer representative from Monday through Friday from 8.00 a.m to 8.00 p.m Eastern except on federal holidays. I suggest that you do that and have available the I-131 Application Receipt Number and documentary evidence of your father’s illness. Be prepared to explain why this is an emergency.
Q: I filed for renewal of my Employment Authorization Document in April 2020 and I have received a receipt for the filing. However, I have not provided my biometrics and I am concerned that if the biometrics of application support center is closed, not providing my biometrics will delay the issuance of the Employment Authorization Document. Please let me know if I am able to also use the emergency services assistance offered by USCIS to provide my biometrics?
A: For extensions or renewals of EAD Document, USCIS states that applicants who had an appointment scheduled with an ASC office after their closure on March 18 or who have filed a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization for extension or renewal, will have their application processed using previously submitted biometrics. This will remain in effect until ASCs resume normal operations. In your case, USCIS will use your previously submitted biometrics to process the renewal of your Employment Authorization Document. You should receive a notice from USCIS indicating re-use of your biometrics.
Q: My mother who is a Lawful Permanent Resident returned to her home country. How long can she remain there without encountering too many issues at time of entry to the US? There are not many flights due to COVID-19 and my mother’s health is frail.
A: An extended absence outside the US may cause a Permanent Resident to lose their status. A permanent resident who remains outside the US for more than one year without a valid Re-Entry Permit is deemed to have abandoned his or her residence and the green card is invalidated automatically. If a Permanent Resident remains outside the US for more than 6 months but less than one year, it should be alright to return to US without any issues. The Customs and Border Protection Office at the port of entry could put him or her in secondary inspection to inquire the reasons of their ‘overstay’ over 6 months but still must admit him or her into the US. I advise, if at all possible, not to exceed the 6 months outside of the US. If that cannot be helped, then please have your mom return before her stay abroad exceeds one year.
Q: My daughter who is a Lawful Permanent Resident will be absent from the US for more than one year by the end of July 2020. I heard that she can just apply for Re-Entry Permit?
A: A permanent resident or green card holder must be physically present in the US to apply for re-entry permit and must have the biometrics (or fingerprinting) done here in the US. Applying for a Re-Entry Permit now is not a viable solution for your daughter. In this COVID-19 crisis, she should try to return to the US as soon as possible and not be absent from the US beyond 365 days.
Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.
Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration Lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.