The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services presented a revision to its Policy Manual. According to the update, USCIS can excuse a nonimmigrant’s late submission of an extension of stay or change of status request under specific conditions. This discretion applies when the delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond the applicant or petitioner’s control.

The update specifies that extraordinary circumstances may consist of various situations. These include instances such as a delay caused by a decrease or cease in work activities due to a strike, lockout, or another labor dispute. Additionally, if the principal reason for delayed submission is the inability to acquire a certified labor condition application or temporary certification due to a temporary interruption in government funding to support these certifications.

This revision to the Policy Manual responds to a commitment presented in the report by the H-2B Worker Protection Task Force, specifically detailed in pages 6-7 of the report, under Action 1.1. According to the report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is obligated to provide clarification that a worker who has stayed in the United Stated beyond the expiration of their period of admission stated in their Form I-94 due to a labor dispute at the workplace will not face adverse consequences solely for these reasons when seeking approval for a “subsequent visa” or a change in immigration status.

Although USCIS is not responsible for issuing visas, they are involved in evaluating requests for extending stays and changing immigration statuses. In general, individuals in the United States under a specific nonimmigrant status, or their petitioners, have the option to seek an extension to prolong their authorized stay, allowing them to continue participating in activities permitted under their initial nonimmigrant classification. In addition, certain individuals in the United States, or their petitioners, may apply for a change of status to transition to another nonimmigrant category, provided they meet the specified requirements.

Typically, USCIS does not grant approval for an extension of stay or change of status when an individual has failed to maintain their previously granted status or when that status has expired before the application or the petition filing date. However, under specific circumstances, USCIS has the authority to, at its discretion, forgive the failure to submit the application before the period of authorized stay expired, provided certain conditions are met.