Travellers under the Visa Waiver Program who have been granted satisfactory departure will be eligible to apply for an additional 30-day prolongation of the permitted period of stay if they have been stuck in the US due to the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced.

The decision aims to help Visa Waiver Program travellers who are stranded in the US due to COVID-19 because of the travel restrictions and entry bans applied by a large share of countries, VisaGuide.World reports.

Travellers of the Visa Waiver Program will be enabled to seek satisfactory departure by contacting any local of CBP Port of Entry or Deferred Inspection Site; or contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Contact Center.

When submitting their request travellers should provide their passport number. They also need to apply for a satisfactory departure before the expiring of their current period of admission.

“Travelers who remain in the United States beyond their lawful period of admission lose their eligibility to travel under the Visa Waiver Program and may be subject to additional penalties under U.S. law,” a press release of the US Customs and Border Protection reads.

The Department of Homeland and Security administrates the US Visa Waiver Program, which enables nationals of 39 countries to travel to the United States without the need to obtain a visa first, for up to 90 days, for the same purposes as those for the B1 visa or the B2 visa.

Visa Waiver Program travellers are unable to extend their stay or change their status after arriving in the United States.

A large share of countries who are allowed to enter the US through the Visa Waiver Program are members of Schengen Zone.

Currently, four non-Schengen EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Cyprus – are non-participating in the US Visa Waiver Program. Their passport holders still have to obtain B1/B2 visas when travelling for tourism or business purposes to the US.

Earlier the European Commission had urged the US authorities to provide Poland and the other four with the right to travel visa-free, what hasn’t happened yet.

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