Updated: Jun 12
Natural catastrophes and other extreme situations can sometimes affect the processing of your USCIS application, petition, or immigration request. USCIS offices based on their own directions in dire times of unknown, natural and national disaster, may offer extensions and exceptions to petition deadlines and fees. The following are a few examples of the services offered during uncertain times-
You, the immigrant, may apply for an extension for your change of status or for your authorized stay date. When applying for an extension or change of status due to a special situation that prevented your planned and timely departure, USCIS will take into consideration how the special situation prevented your departure. If you do not apply for the extension or change of status before your authorized period of admission expires, they may excuse the delay if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control.
Another useful tip to know is that if you lose your job or experience a sudden loss of income and are unable to pay the fee for a USCIS service or benefit, you may request a fee waiver for certain forms by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver on the USCIS website.
There are also provisions put in, for foreign students on a F-1 visa in the US.
For instance, if you, as the F-1 student, experience severe economic hardship because of unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, you may request employment authorization to work off-campus. There is also something called, Special Student Relief which is the suspension of certain regulatory requirements by the secretary of Homeland Security for F‑1 students from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. Examples of emergent circumstances include natural catastrophe, war and military conflicts, and national or international financial crises.
If you did not appear for a scheduled interview or appointment or did not submit evidence or respond to a notice or request in a timely manner for reasons directly tied to the special situation, you may show how the disrupting event affected your ability to appear for an interview or submit documents as required.
For more information and more extenuating circumstances please visit the USCIS website https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations
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