Japan and the Earthquake of 2011

On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit with a powerful 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a devastating subsequent tsunami and nuclear crisis that have affected thousands of people, in Japan and around the world.

While making sure that family and friends are safe abroad, Japanese nationals who have immigrated to the United States, should also be sure to keep an eye on their immigration status during these difficult times. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is informing Japanese nationals in America that the disaster may make maintaining lawful immigration status difficult for them.

The USCIS has made available the following temporary relief measures for Japanese immigrants as a result of the natural catastrophe:

• The grant of an application for change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;

• Re-parole of individuals granted parole by USCIS;

• Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;

• Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;

• Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);

• Expedited employment authorization where appropriate; and

• Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration documents such as Green Cards. USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

Japanese nationals visiting America during this time through the Visa Waiver Program may want to contact the closest USCIS office for assistance.

As of March, 20th, 2011, according to the Japanese national police agency, 7653 people had been confirmed dead and 11,746 are officially listed as missing as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The Japanese people need our help and you can help by contributing to organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross.