After the recent devastation throughout the U.S. east cost caused by Hurricane Sandy, our office is receiving a number of inquiries by foreign nationals regarding relief options and alternatives in various U.S. immigration situations. USCIS has also indicated that they would provide relief in a number of situations understanding that a disaster may affect the ability of an individual to maintain status in the U.S. or to otherwise comply with the relevant immigration regulations.
As a result, there are a number of options for foreign nationals who are impacted by the Hurricane Sandt. The relief may be available to all foreign nationals if they can show that their ability to comply with immigration regulations has been impacted by the disaster.
Application to Extend (or Change) Status from within the U.S.
Foreign nationals can now obtain relief by having an application for extension or change of status approved after such application is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired. Normally, an application to change or extend status filed after the period of authorized stay has expired would be denied. In this case, the delay can be excused if it is caused by the disaster.
Advance Parole – Expediting and Extending
USCIS permits re-parole of individuals already granted parole. Also, extension of certain parole grants and expedited processing of advance parole applications is available.
USCIS would allow expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship. As a result, foreign students who are on F-1 status and would otherwise qualify for financial hardship EAD work permit can apply to do so on the basis of the disaster. Similarly, USCIS would review favorably expedited processing of other pending EAD applications.
Immediate Relatives Immigrant Petitions
USCIS would also permit expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) where either the petitioner or the beneficiary are impacted by the recent events.
Foreign Assistance to LPRs Stranded Overseas
USCIS and Department of State are also willing to provide assistance to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) who are stranded overseas without immigration documents such as green cards.
We applaud USCIS’ willingness to accommodate the needs of certain foreign nationals who are impacted by Hurricane Sandy and the widespread destruction. Our office stands ready to assist affected foreign nationals who need help with their immigration options. Please contact us for a free initial consultation and analysis of your options.