In an important development, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has introduced a crucial update to its Policy Manual. This change grants USCIS the discretion, under specific circumstances, to forgive a nonimmigrant’s failure to file an extension of stay or change of status request in a timely manner. The key factor in this decision lies in whether the delay can be attributed to extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the applicant or petitioner.
Expanding the Scope of ‘Extraordinary Circumstances’
This policy update provides valuable clarification on what constitutes “extraordinary circumstances.” While not a large list, such circumstances may encompass situations where the delay results from a work-related strike, lockout, or labor dispute causing a slowdown or cessation of work. Additionally, if the primary reason for the delayed filing is the inability to obtain a certified labor condition application or temporary labor certification due to a lapse in government funding supporting these certifications, it may also qualify as an extraordinary circumstance.
Navigating Extension of Stay and Change of Status Requests
USCIS’s role is to adjudicate extension of stay and change of status requests. Typically, certain nonimmigrants in the United States, along with their petitioners, may seek an extension of their authorized stay to continue activities allowed under their current nonimmigrant classification. Similarly, some nonimmigrants, or their petitioners, may wish to change their status to another nonimmigrant category, provided they meet specific requirements.
The USCIS Discretionary Exception
It’s vital to understand that USCIS generally does not approve extension of stay or change of status requests if an individual failed to maintain their previously granted status or if their status expired before the application or petition filing date. Nevertheless, the recent update signifies that USCIS, in its discretion, now holds the authority to excuse such failures under particular conditions.
This policy adjustment is poised to have a notable impact on individuals navigating the complex terrain of immigration. While it reflects USCIS’s commitment to accommodating unforeseen challenges, it also underscores the need for expert guidance to navigate these evolving regulations effectively. For personalized assistance and to explore how this update may affect your specific situation, please don’t hesitate to contact Jeelani Law Firm’s experienced immigration professionals.