The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced various measures to aid those afflicted by Hurricane Sandy.
“USCIS understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to maintain lawful immigration status or obtain certain other immigration benefits,” the agency stated in a news release posted on its website.
According to the release, eligible individuals may apply for temporary relief measures, including:
A change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual in the United States currently—even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired.
Expedited adjudication of off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship.
Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications.
Extension or re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS.
Assistance to legal permanent residents (LPR) stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as permanent resident cards (“green cards”). USCIS and the U.S. Department of State will coordinate in this case when legal permanent residents are stranded in places without a local USCIS office.
Also, the release states that, where appropriate, USCIS may, at its discretion, allow for delays in filing resulting from the hurricane. For example:
Assistance to those who have not appeared for an interview or submitted required forms of evidence—if they can prove the hurricane prevented them from doing so.
Assistance to those who have not been able to respond to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID). USCIS will extend the deadline for individuals to respond to RFEs or NOIDs by 30 days. This will apply to all RFEs and NOIDs with a deadline of Oct. 26-Nov. 26, 2012. During this time, USCIS will not issue denials based on abandonment of an application or petition, the release states.
Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program may visit a local USCIS office for help.
“Please check whether your local USCIS office is open before going. Individuals affected by the hurricane who are at a U.S. airport may contact the nearest U.S. Customs and Border Protection office for assistance,” the release states.