USCIS Offers Immigration Relief for Victims of Natural Disasters

Recent wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui have brought to light the support many US immigrants and nonimmigrants may need when they are affected by a natural disaster or other emergency. Extenuating circumstances such as wildfires can impact the processing of your US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) petition, application, or immigration request, or your ability to lawfully remain in the United States.

However, USCIS may be able to assist you in these times if required.

Emergency Situations Where USCIS Can Assist You

  • Extensions and changes of status – If a disaster or other qualifying circumstance prevented your planned departure, you can request to extend or change your status.
  • Fee waiver – If the disaster renders you unable to pay USCIS fees, you can request a waiver for certain forms.
  • Document replacement – You can request expedited replacement of documents such as your Green Card, EAD, or Form I-94 if the disaster resulted in its loss or destruction.
  • Severe economic hardship for F1 students – If the disaster caused the loss of your ability to pay tuition or living costs, you can request employment authorization to work off campus.
  • Failure to appear or failure to respond – If you are unable to appear for a scheduled USCIS interview or appointment or cannot respond to a USCIS request due to the disaster, you can show proof that the circumstance legitimately prevented you from doing so.
  • Expedited processing – You can request USCIS process your request or benefit more quickly if necessary.
  • Visa Waiver Program flexibility – If the disaster prevented a Visa Waiver Program participant from departing the US as scheduled, USCIS can grant up to an additional 30 days to allow for departure.

Please note that USCIS may only consider the above measures on a case-by-case basis, and you will be required to explain and possibly provide proof of the unforeseen circumstance.

For immigration assistance in these cases, please call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283.

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