In the wake of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25, 2015, the Nepali community is receiving special consideration in the form of immigration relief measures from the United States.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced several major immigration relief measures that may be available upon request to Nepali nationals impacted by the recent disaster.
Extension or change of nonimmigrant status:
USCIS recognizes that when affected by a disaster an individual may, through no fault of their own, fall out of status. As such, a Nepali national currently in the U.S. may obtain relief by filing an application for change or extension of status, even if the request is filed after his/her authorized period of admission has expired if the applicant can show how it is directly connected to the disaster.
Extension of certain grants of parole:
A Nepali national currently in the U.S. pursuant to a grant of parole may apply to extend the validity period of his/her parolee status (re-parole). Parole is used sparingly by USCIS to allow someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the U.S. for a temporary period of time due to a compelling humanitarian reason or significant public benefit. Notwithstanding exceptions like this, humanitarian paroles are granted for a period that coincides with the duration of the emergency or humanitarian situation that is the basis for the request, not to exceed one year.
Expedited processing of advance parole requests:
USCIS will expedite the processing of advance parole requests for a Nepali national who can demonstrate an emergent need to leave the U.S. as a result of the earthquake.
Expedited adjudication and approval of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship:
USCIS is cognizant that as an academic student, an individual may need to work off-campus if a disaster has affected his/her ability to support him/herself. Therefore, a Nepali national studying in the U.S. pursuant to F-1 status may request expedited adjudication and approval of his/her request for off-campus employment authorization, where possible. An applicant must demonstrate that he/she is experiencing severe economic hardship as a result of the disaster.
Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications:
A Nepali national may request expedited processing by USCIS of a pending employment authorization application, where appropriate.
Consideration for waivers of fees:
A Nepali national applying for an immigration relief measure through USCIS who is able to demonstrate his/her inability to pay the relevant application fee may request that the application fee be waived.
Replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents:
A Nepali national whose USCIS-issued immigration or travel documents were lost or destroyed as a result of the earthquake may request assistance by USCIS in replacing the documents (e.g. Permanent Residence Cards).
As a reminder, in order to possibly receive any of these relief measures, the applicant must request them and must be able to demonstrate that his/her need is connected to the earthquake.
For more information on how to request relief or more about how USCIS assists customers affected by unforeseen circumstances in their home country, visit uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for the hearing impaired: 1-800-767-1833).