Immigrants Stuck in US

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What if I can’t leave the United States because of the coronavirus? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

I just said lawyer like my grandma used to say lawyer. That’s our St. Louis accent, so hope you got a kick out of that. In this video, we’re talking about situations where people are immigrants and are in the United States and can’t leave. So I had a consult over the weekend with a young lady from China. She’s actually married to a U.S. citizen and they’re going to be stuck here for a while so they’ve decided to go ahead and apply for a green card.

But not everybody has that option and there are people who have come on ESTA or visa waiver program. There’s people who’ve come on a B1/B2 visit visas and they’re not being able to fly outside the United States at this time.

So if you’re on a visit visa or a non-immigrant visa or you need some kind of an extension, then you should file an I-539 extension of status so that you can get your permission time in the United States to be extended, and we can help you with that. If you’re on ESTA, we looked at the rules and there is a procedure during extreme circumstances where the district director for where you live can extend your ESTA or visa waiver program to stay in the United States by 30 days.

So there’s a process for both of these. You can get extensions and generally the United States doesn’t do a really good job of keeping track of who’s leaving when they leave and why they left and the deadline of when they left. When we went to Egypt with our kids last year, they kept very careful track of when we entered, how long we were allowed to stay, and when we left.

And the United States doesn’t really do that, but in these circumstances, I think it’s a good idea to document everything, to make sure that you do everything you can to stay in status. USCS might not process your case but at least you can make the argument that you did everything you could to maintain your status.

And right now we’re all sort of in triage mode, we’re in trying to make the best of a bad situation. So filing an extension that’s a good faith extension that’s based on real reasons for you having to stay is a good idea and it’s going to support your arguments later if and when you have to make them that you did everything you could to maintain your status and that’s really what you’re dealing with right now. That’s sort of the level of analysis we’re at. These are strange times and that’s sometimes that’s the best you can do.

If you have questions about this, give us a call, (314) 961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called immigrant home. And if you liked this video, we ask that you share it out on social and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot.