Some 63,000 flights had been canceled in Europe by the end of Sunday, in the four days since the air space of northern Europe was shut down by an enormous ash cloud from an erupting volcano beneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland.
Passengers are scrambling to find alternative travel routes. German tourists are being bussed home from Spain, while the Royal Navy is sending military ships to Spain to bring home stranded Brits. Thousand of Europeans are also stuck in the US with no option to leave at this time. Many visitors are worried about the implications of not being able to leave before their current status expires.
Foreign nationals stranded in the U.S. because of the airport closures in Europe due to the Icelandic volcano eruption and who are about to exceed their authorized stay in the U.S. have two avenues for relief. If at an airport and traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), they should contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at the airport. They may also contact the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. Both Department of Homeland Security agencies have provided their staff and offices 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 below. While these instructions recommend initiating the process 45 days in advance, USCIS is providing reminder guidance on how to handle such cases until normal flights are scheduled between the U.S. and foreign countries affected by the Icelandic volcanic activity.
We keep monitoring the situation and will update our readers as we obtain more news.