November 30, 2020

Volume X, Number 335


November 30, 2020

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CBP Updates Satisfactory Departure Process for Travelers Forced to Remain in the United States Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

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.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 78



About this Author

Melissa Manna, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Raleigh, Immigration Practice Group Writer
Immigration Practice Group Writer

Melissa Manna is an Immigration Practice Group Writer. Her primary focus is writing and editing legal articles relating to immigration for the firm’s online and print publications, websites, and newsletters.

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Melissa spent 9 years as in-house counsel at TowerCo, one of the largest independent wireless tower companies in the U.S., representing the company in all aspects of commercial real estate. During that time she managed due diligence, advised and implemented risk management solutions, and closed transactions...

Ceridwen J. Koski, Ogletree Deakins, Investor Start ups lawyer, Global Corporations Attorney

Admitted to the state bars of Colorado, Arizona and New York, Ceri has experience working with clients that range from Fortune 500 companies, individual investors, start-up companies, U.S. branches of global corporations, and entertainers.