The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services recently released information that may help individuals impacted by the recent natural disasters in the U.S., including Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. People who were impacted by unforeseen circumstances, including natural disasters, may be able to take advantage of the following:
- Filing late change or extension of status applications: Normally, you are ineligible to file for a change or extension of status if your current status has expired. If you were unable to file a change or extension of status application due to being impacted by one of the recent natural disasters, you may be able to file for this benefit even if you are currently out of status. You will need to show that the reason you applied late is directly connected to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control.
- Employment Authorization for Students: Usually students on F-1 status can only work in limited circumstances and only in their area of study. If you were impacted by a natural disaster, either here or in your home country, and you need to work to support yourself as a result, you may be eligible to apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765. You must demonstrate you are from an affected country or area and your Designated School Official (DSO) must recommend you for employment.
- Replacing Documents (Green cards, EADs, etc): If your immigration documents were lost due to a natural disaster you must file a form with USCIS to replace them.
- If you need to replace your green card, file Form I-90 or go to a local USCIS Field Office and request a temporary I-551 stamp.
- To get a new I-94 card as proof of your status, file Form I-102. Please note that if you were issued an electronic I-94 at a US port of entry you can get a new I-94 for free by visiting this website: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.
- If you need a new employment authorization card you can file Form I-765.
- Immigration fees may be waived: You can request a fee waiver on Form I-912 if you are not able to pay for a USCIS service or immigration benefit.
- Absence at an interview or inability to respond to a Request for Evidence: If you were unable to appear for a scheduled interview or you did not file a response to a Request for Evidence by the deadline due to the impact of a natural disaster you can submit evidence to the USCIS documenting how this disaster disrupted your ability to appear or respond to the request.
- Expedited Processing: If the natural disaster has resulted in a situation where you need the USCIS to consider your application in an expedited manner, you can request expedited processing.
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