Updates to Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) Satisfactory Departure Requests
As the US continues to face the spread of COVID-19 (“coronavirus”), for those visitors in the US who have entered using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), it is important to understand US immigration law related to your entry. The Visa Waiver Program is commonly referred to as “the ESTA” in Australia or “Visa Waiver” more broadly.
We previously outlined, for those in the US on the Visa Waiver Program, information about what you should be aware of here and this included an overview of satisfactory departure for foreign nationals who need extra time to depart the US. We wanted to provide some updates related to satisfactory departure from the US for foreign nationals on the Visa Waiver Program. It is important to remember failure to depart timely may lead to immigration consequences.
Latest updates on how to apply for Satisfactory Departure
As covered previously, satisfactory departure (an additional 30 days to depart the US), is the only option for foreign nationals reaching the end of their 90 day admission period to stay in the US. Now satisfactory departure can be requested with Custom and Border Protection (CBP) or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Previously, only Custom and Border Protection had a process for these requests.
In both cases documentation and information will be required to request satisfactory departure, and this should be applied for before the end of a foreign national’s current admission period.
Custom and Border Protection was reviewing and approving satisfactory departure requests generally through contact with a CBP deferred inspection office or port of entry in a foreign national local area. Many offices have different procedures to follow, including what documentation is required, so it is important to review the procedures with a local office.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has also started to review satisfactory departure requests as well. With U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a foreign national should contact the customer service Contact Center by phone during their staffed times, between Monday to Friday 8:00AM - 8:00PM Eastern Time. You will then be instructed from there, including emailing the request for satisfactory departure.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services request will need to include information such as the date and place of entry to the US, the specific reason for the request, contact information and passport ID page. The request will then be adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Again, it is important for foreign nationals to make these requests timely either through Custom and Border Protection or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Should you need assistance or have questions with satisfactory departure please contact us immediately.
Can I request an additional up to 30-day period of Satisfactory Departure?
If a foreign national decides to stay in the US or cannot leave the US, and has satisfactory departure but still cannot depart, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has the authority to grant an additional period of 30 days of satisfactory departure as per their announcement on April 13, 2020. Custom and Border Protection has confirmed they have the authority to do so as well. The request will likely then need to go through one of the same processes as above.
About The Author
Melissa Vincenty is a US attorney, an Australian migration agent and the founder and managing director of Worldwide Migration Partners. Melissa has over 20 years of experience in migration law, including practising at the world’s largest US immigration firm and more than 15 years as a Country Specialist (China and Tibet) for Amnesty International USA.