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Beginning March 16, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began allowing certain travelers the opportunity to make a Satisfactory Departure request directly at a port of entry if, due to COVID-19–related travel issues, a traveler is unable to depart the United States before his or her period of admission expires. Satisfactory Departure requests must generally be made to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); however, in extraordinary circumstances, CBP may adjudicate the requests.

Under Satisfactory Departure, a traveler may be granted 30 additional days if there is an emergency situation that prevents the individual from departing the United States within his or her period of authorized stay. As long as the traveler leaves within the 30-day window, he or she will not be considered to have violated U.S. immigration laws by overstaying.

For now, CBP will only adjudicate requests made by travelers who were admitted to the United States pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) / Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) through John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) or Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU), though the list continues to grow. Travelers can contact the Deferred Inspections office to request Satisfactory Departure for a period of up to 30 days.

At JFK and EWR, requests are limited to those whose VWP/ESTA period of admission will expire within 14 days. At RDU, requests are limited to those whose VWP/ESTA period of admission will expire within three days.

Travelers must provide their names, dates of birth, and passport information at the time of the request. They may also be asked to provide their flight itineraries showing their original flight information as well as their updated travel itineraries.

It is unclear if or when CBP will implement a similar process at other ports of entry, or if additional periods of Satisfactory Departure will be available to travelers who are unable to depart the United States beyond the 30-day window due to Covid-19–related travel issues. Ogletree Deakins will provide updated information, as soon it is available.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to the policy changes and will post updates on our Immigration blog and in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available.

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