Immigration Resources During a Disaster

When mother nature strikes or when wildfires break out it’s important to be ready to act especially if your immigration status depends on it. Wildfires like those in California or storms like Hurricane Harvey that hit Texas in August 2017 can lead to devastation. Outside of damage to your personal things, your immigration status could be impacted as well if you are in the middle of an immigration process.

USCIS does have some resources that can help you during a natural disaster. These resources can be used on a case-by-case basis upon request.

1. If you’re in the middle of changing nonimmigrant status or extending a nonimmigrant stay.

Failure to apply for the extension or change before the expiration of your authorized period of admission may be excused if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control.

2. Parole

USCIS can re-parole people previously granted parole.

3. Expedited processing

USCIS will, on a case-by-case basis, expedite certain processes if you can prove a natural disaster has caused significant hardship. Applications that can be expedited include:

  • Advance parole requests.
  • Requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship.
  • Employment authorization applications, where appropriate.
  • Replacement of lost or damaged immigration documents issued by USCIS, such as a green card.

4. Fee waivers

USCIS will consider fee waivers for people who are unable to pay an immigration fee due to a natural disaster.

5. Missed supporting evidence, interviews or biometrics.

  • If you received a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny and were unable to submit a response in a timely manner, USCIS will provide assistance for those people if they were impacted by a natural disaster.
  • If you missed a USCIS scheduled interview due to a natural disaster you can also ask for assistance.
  • Missed biometrics appointments due to natural disasters can be rescheduled.

USCIS urges you to explain how the impact of the disaster created a need to for requested relief.

If you’d like to learn more about how to request these resources you can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 (TDD for the deaf and hard of hearing: 800-767-1833). To find out if an office near you has been closed due to a natural disaster or other emergencies you can visit USCIS Office Closings.

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