My father's US visa will end this month. What can we do, if the virus is not better? He will have to fly from Phoenix to Stuttgart, Germany! He is healthy, following all the rules, right now, he is 94 years old!

Is he likely to get a visa extension? Can he fly back to Germany safely?

  • 15
    We cannot give medical advice. Your father should consult his doctor. We can't say whether flights will be available in April. you could apply for a visa extension. There is a not insignificant fee to pay. We can't say whether your father will get it, but he can legally stay in the US while it is processed, which could be some time.
    – user105640
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 4:29
  • 5
    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Not necessarily so, but "going home" is explicitly mentioned in several lists of essential travel.
    – piet.t
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 5:38
  • 5
    How is 'visa expiring' not essential travel? Do the visa regimes universally accept that there will be no repercussions for overstaying your visa because of COVID-19? Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 7:56
  • 8
    Depending on your financial abilities, I would also strongly recommend you to consider if your father would not have access to better health care in Germany. That might alleviate the risk it is to travel. Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 11:30
  • 3
    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo +1 to that. Treatment for COVID-19 might be equivalent in both countries, but COVID-19 is very easy to avoid through self-isolation. But at 94 years old you're extremely likely to require other kinds of medical attention, which could be tricky without proper insurance. No travel insurance will cover a 94 year old, so OP's father does not have any.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 12:20

3 Answers 3


In the US, an expired visa does not mean expired legal status.

You can check HERE when his status expires - if he actually holds a visa, it may be a lot later.

If his status is indeed about to expire, he needs to consult a qualified physician. They, if need be, can issue a certificate, with which you can visit a CBP Deferred Inspections office in order to be given a "Satisfactory departure" extension of 30 days, but I'm unsure about anything beyond that.

  • how does that work exactly? how can an expired visa means that one can still stay in the country? (except specific cases)
    – njzk2
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 15:26
  • @njzk2: for the difference visa/status, internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/page/visa-vs-status Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 16:03
  • @njzk2 In the US, a visa only has to be valid on entry to the US, and not even that if only having visited Canada/Mexico for max 30 days. As for legal presence in the US, that's solely dictated by your admission conditions.
    – Crazydre
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 16:03
  • 1
    @Graham Makes no sense what you wrote - again, the US does not work like other countries in this regard
    – Crazydre
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 16:04
  • 2
    "Most likely a lot later": this is not correct. If he is on the VWP, he does not have a visa, and if he does have a visa it is probably a 10-year visa. It is rather more likely that it is his status that is expiring; people often speak of "visa expiration" when they mean "expiration of the authorized period of admission." Also, the US works like some other countries in this regard, at least including Canada. Satisfactory departure only applies to the VWP.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 17:23

Your father is in a vulnerable segment regarding COVID-19. On the current progression, the situation in the US is not likely to be stable by the end of April 2020.

If he can get an extension, it would be the best. If you can afford that, it's best to apply for that.

If you choose to return to Germany, it is best to do it now, rather than later. Flights are running even though with a very limited amount. The situation is still evolving. We cannot eliminate the possibility of a situation like in India, with full lock down, including flights and all public transport. Take the necessary precautions and get out when you can.

Consult a doctor over the phone and validate whatever your plan is and do that.

  • 3
    It's unlikely his legal status is about to expire in the first place, as an expired visa does not mean expired legal status in the US
    – Crazydre
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 10:24
  • 5
    @Crazydre it's also unlikely that he has an actual visa expiring. Probably 99% of the time when someone speaks of a US visa expiring they are referring to the expiration of the authorized period of stay as reflected on the I-94.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 17:28

I think the question is which option is safer. Sure, being on a plane in close proximity of others is problematic, but it's important to consider the comparative level of safety in the US and Germany.

For example, in the US, at least 3,921 people have died (around 12 per million), whereas in Germany it's 732 (around 9 per million). However, these numbers change daily and are not the best indicator of where we're headed. In the same sources, however, you'll find these graphics:

New cases in Germany per day (orange are updates, so you can just view the sum of blue and orange as the known knew cases)

New cases in the US per day

This implies that the turning point between exponential growth and saturation is already in the past in Germany (however, it may return to exponential growth, if for example people resume their pre-corona habits), but not in the US.

An often used metric is also the hospital beds per capita. Wikipedia lists a higher number for Germany, however, ICU beds are fewer per capita in Germany than in the US. Also, I couldn't find reliable data on ventilators, which may be another important metric.

  • 1
    These are interesting statistics, but in the US the availability of hospital beds and the prevalence of the infection vary widely from one place to another. The risk of the trip itself is probably the most significant factor, however, with the growing awareness that the virus may be spread through aerosol particles.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 17:27
  • 2
    While I believe Germany is better prepared, the first graphic is a bit misleading. This is the official statistic of Germany, where reports are often delayed by a day or more. The yellow bars is what was reported today, blue is how it looked yesterday. As you can see about 2/3 of yesterday's cases were only inserted today, and the cases for today are not yet completely counted.
    – averell
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 18:37
  • The number of new cases in Germany may seem to stagnate because testing capacities are reaching their limits. Looking at the complete numbers for each day, there is no sign that the number is going back. Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 21:21
  • Important numbers are: How many days does it take for the total amount to increase by 100%? The last 5 days it increased by 50%. The previous 5 days days 100%. The recovery rate is high (25%), steadly increasing in the last 10 days. Most importantly for the OP, the father will be insured. In Germany it is almost impossible for a resident not to be insured. So the only question is: can he get back safely. Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 14:53

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .