Just a few weeks ago, the world watched as a powerful typhoon great and struck the southeast region of Asia, including Hong Kong and the Philippines. This typhoon is called Typhoon Mangkhut, also known as Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines. It landed on the island of Luzon on September 15, 2018 and was a category 5 typhoon. Its path left many homes destroyed and at least 100 dead, despite the governments’ preemptive implementations in preparation of it. Many are still recovering from the aftermath of the Typhoon’s rampage today.
U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers certain special immigration services for certain individuals affected by special situations, such as Typhoon Mangkhut or also a recent situation, Hurricane Florence. USCIS will make a discretionary measure on a case by case basis for those who have been affected by these natural catastrophes. One of the ways USCIS can help during these trying times is to delay or extend a planned departure. For example, if a foreign citizen is visiting the U.S. on a visitor visa, they may be able to extend their stay because of the special situation. The applicant must explain how the special situation is directly related to the request. Also, for individuals who have previously been granted parole, may request to be reissued the parole.
USCIS can also expedite the processing of certain applications such as, advance parole requests, work authorization requests where appropriate, replacement of travel documents such as a green card, and employment request for students based on economic hardship. USCIS will also consider fee waivers for certain applications where the special situation has impeded an applicant’s ability to pay for the USCIS fee. Some examples of financial hardship would be if there have been substantial currency exchange rates that affect one’s ability to pay, or if an applicant has unexpected medical bills or other expenses due to the special situation.
Some of the other services that USCIS will provide is extension of responses to their requests, rescheduling interviews and biometrics notices. Sometimes USCIS will excuse late requests of all these services if there were extraordinary circumstances out of the applicant’s control that prevented them from requesting the service. USCIS has implemented these services to aid in times of catastrophe. So, contact a knowledgeable attorney if you need help through unexpected hard times.