• ESTA Status Extension

    Categories: Immigration, US: COVID-19

    Yes, We Can

    Law Office of Andrea Natale is pleased to announce to have successfully obtained the ESTA status extension for an Italian citizen.

    In the United States, many Italians (and Europeans) may be facing an immigration crisis during the COVID-19 outbreak. In January and February 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce recorded that 116,372 Italians entered the United States pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of certain countries to remain in the United States for 90 days.  The foreign national applies to the Program by requesting the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”).

    Prior to COVID-19, conventional wisdom taught that ESTAs could not be extended. But the reality of the crisis led to inquire about the truthfulness of those teachings.  Italy has been hit dramatically by the pandemic.  As a consequence of this tragedy, airline companies canceled their Italian routes and many Italians found themselves in an immigration crisis during the pandemic: expiring ESTA status coupled with flight cancellation(s) equals remaining illegally in the United States.

    The Law

    This immigration crisis nested in the pandemic prompted the review of the immigration laws, among which 8 CFR 217.3(a) sparked our attention because it grants a period of satisfactory departure in case of emergy thereby allowing the alien to avoid overstaying and related consequences.

    In the context of Satisfactory Departure, USCIS defines “emergency” as “serious emergencies, such as hospitalization, or conditions that cause flights to be delayed or canceled for more than 24 hours (weather, worker strikes, etc.).” USCIS Reading Room at 9.  In other words, ESTA holders can request an extension in case of a medical or logistical emergency.

    The Procedure

    To request the Satisfactory Departure, the alien ESTA holder can (1) call USCIS and request to schedule a Satisfactory Departure appointment; or (2) visit the closest CBP Deferred Site. In both cases, the alien will have to show to the immigration authorities evidence to prove that a medical or logistical emergency prevents his or her departure within the 90 days. You can check the expiration date of your status on CBP Website.

    For more information on how to obtain the ESTA status extension, please do not hesitate to contact us.  

    N.B.: The information herein does not constitute legal advice.

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