Tourists and stranded visitors must apply for visa extensions in the United States

By Carmen Rodriguez, Washington DC.

Border and airport closings in some countries, Due to the pandemic that is experienced in the world by the Covid-19 outbreak, they also affected the situation of tourists, travelers and workers who were outside their countries of residence.

Many Salvadorans who still cannot return to their country, they are concerned that they have no resources and must carry out certain procedures to prevent their visas or legal residence permits from expiring and may even be revoked.

At the end of last March, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS for its acronym in English) Ken Cuccinelli, He said that all the people who are forced to stay in the country due to the measures taken in their countries, they must carry out the corresponding procedures so as not to have consequences of having exceeded their stay in the United States.

Cuccinelli also said, that the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is aware that the situation is extraordinary and that this will be taken into account when approving the extension of a visa for travelers and tourists.

How to apply for the visa extension?

All people who entered the United States for a short period of time and are stranded with the possibility that their visas expire or that they recently experienced should complete the process and request the visa extension.

“Immigration authorities are applying exceptional measures. The length of stay can be extended until they can return. People have to argue in their proceedings that they cannot return to their country due to the situation”, explains the lawyer, migration expert Roberto Sarmiento.

Until now, Salvadorans are the only group of foreigners in the United States who must remain in the country indefinitely. El Salvador is the only country that is not executing plans so that its citizens can return from the North American country.

Forgiveness of fines

According to the immigration lawyer, there is a possibility that affected people who need to apply for the visa extension, do it without paying the cost of $500 of the procedure.

Applicants must submit form I-539 which is the visa extension application and along with this, they must also file form I-912. Both documents must be accompanied by evidence that the person cannot return to their country.

“This procedure is completely valid, because people are not adjusting their immigration status in the country, but requesting an extension for the situation caused by the Covid-19”, Sarmiento said.

If travelers cannot complete the process within the United States, must submit a letter to the US Embassy in their country, once they re-enter their country, to avoid negative consequences or even the cancellation of your visa.

“Failure to complete the visa extension process or failure to report that the traveler has exceeded the time granted in the country for their stay, in the Immigration system it appears that the time granted has exceeded and when you try to return to the country, your visa can be canceled”, added the expert.

The application and both forms can be submitted online at the USCIS portal with the mentioned documentation. People with questions can also contact migration experts.