When foreign nationals are affected by natural disasters– like the recent earthquakes in Ecuador, Burma and Japan– U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers immigration relief. When areas around the globe are hit with severe challenges, USCIS prioritizes those in need and offers assistance on multiple levels.
USCIS offers assistance on request to those in need. The relief measures include:
- A change or an extension of nonimmigrant status for those who are currently in the United States. This applies even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired.
- Re-parole for those who were previously granted parole by USCIS.
- Advance parole documents are prioritized with expedited processing.
- F-1 students who are experiencing severe economic hardship receive expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization.
- In appropriate situations, USCIS expedites adjudication of employment authorization applications.
- Fee waiver consideration for those who are unable to pay form submission costs.
- Those who’ve received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to appear for an interview to present the evidence or to respond in a timely manner because of the natural disaster get USCIS assistance.
- Those who need to replace immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS– such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)– can apply for replacement documents issued by USCIS.
In order to gain assistance, USCIS still requires those affected by disasters to file the forms that are regularly required for any particular relief or benefit that’s needed. Information on the forms should include an explanation of how the natural disaster created the applicant’s need for relief.
Portoviejo, Ecuador experienced an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on April 16.
On April 16, Japan’s Kyushu region experienced twin earthquakes. The first, now considered a foreshock, held a 6.2 magnitude. A quake measuring at a magnitude of 6.0 shook the region about three hours later.
The Burma earthquake struck on March 24, 2011 with a 6.9 magnitude.
USCIS offers information on the process for requesting relief measures from the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 (TDD for the deaf and hard of hearing: 800-767-1833).
More information is also available at uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations.