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Relief for Foreign Nationals Stranded due to the Icelandic Volcano Eruption

April 20, 2010

DHS has been closely monitoring the air travel situation resulting from the Icelandic volcano eruption and understands the cancellation of flights and closure of European airports may put some of your citizens at risk of entering into overstay status, through no fault of their own. Remedies are available to individuals about to exceed the authorized stay as a direct result of these closures under both the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and with a visa.

At airports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may grant Satisfactory Departure for a traveler whose VWP admission is expiring and who is unable to depart timely as a result of airport closures or flight delays/cancellations.  If the stranded traveler is not at an airport but elsewhere in the country, the traveler may apply for Satisfactory Departure from the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.  If granted, Satisfactory Departure allows the VWP traveler to stay in the United States legally for an additional 30 days.  If the beneficiary leaves within that period, he or she will not be considered to have overstayed.  Both agencies have provided their staff with guidance on the applicable legal authorities under the VWP in circumstances such as this.

Persons traveling under a visa should contact the nearest USCIS office and follow the instructions at the following link: LINK1.

While this link recommends initiating the process 45 days in advance, U.S. CIS is providing reminder guidance on how to handle such cases this weekend.  A directory of local USCIS offices can be found at: LINK2

US Department of Homeland Security