Taking a humanitarian approach to the potential plight of foreign nationals who may be negatively impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the Immigration Service (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS) has posted information regarding temporary reilef measures that may be of benefit to those affected by the hurricane. Included in the list of temporary relief measures for which eligible individuals may apply are:
- A change or extension of nonimmigrant status even if filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
- Extension or re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
- Expedited adjudication of off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
- Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications; and
- Assistance to US Permanent Residents (LPRs or greencard-holders) stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents.
The Immigration Service has also indicated that it may exercise its discretion to allow for some filing delays or failures to appear for interviews due to the hurricane. This is completely discretionary and in order to be considered, an individual must “show how the disrupting event affected…[the] connection to USCIS and… [the] ability to appear or submit documents as required”. With regard to those who are unable to file replies to Requests For Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID), the Service has indicated that for RFEs and NOIDs with a response deadline of October 26, 2012, through November 26, 2012, the response deadlines will be extended by 30 days, and further, that during this time, it will not issue denials based on abandonment of an application or petition if a response is not received.
Visitors to the United States who are here as waivered tourists (business or pleasure) under the Visa Waiver Program and need assistance may visit a local USCIS office, but will want to first confirm whether the local Immigration Service office is open.