USCIS has updated its Policy Manual, now allowing, under certain conditions, the excusal of delays in filing for an extension of stay or change of status by nonimmigrants if caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond their control. Such circumstances can include work-related issues like strikes, lockouts, labor disputes, or the inability to obtain necessary labor certifications due to government funding lapses.
This update fulfills a commitment from the H-2B Worker Protection Task Force report, ensuring that workers overstaying due to labor disputes aren’t penalized when applying for future visas or immigration status changes.
While USCIS doesn’t issue visas, it does handle requests for stay extensions and status changes. Typically, nonimmigrants in the U.S. can request these if they wish to continue activities allowed under their visa class. However, USCIS generally doesn’t approve requests from individuals who didn’t maintain their status or whose status expired before the application. This new policy may allow exceptions if specific conditions are met.