USCIS Reminds Immigrants Affected By Natural Disasters That Help Is Available


If you have been affected by a natural disaster, such as the wildfires in Colorado, and need help with immigration issues, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stated that there are special services available.

Individuals affected by unforeseen circumstances or a natural disaster can get help with certain issues on a case by case basis, such as:

Re-parole for those who have been given parole in the past Expedited adjudication for F-1 students of their authorization for off-campus employment if they are experiencing economic hardship and employment authorization applications Consideration of a fee waiver request if an individual cannot pay Extending non-immigrant stay or changing nonimmigrant status for those individuals already in the United States Expedited processing of advanced parole requests Expedited replacement by the USCIS of travel documents that have been lost or damaged Rescheduling a biometrics appointment Flexibility for those who can’t respond or submit evidence in a timely fashion for a notice of intent to deny or request for evidence, as well as for those who can’t attend an interview that has been scheduled with the USCIS

For those who are requesting a special service, they should detail how the wildfires in Colorado caused the situation necessitating their request. Also, for individuals who lost evidence, they should supply a copy of a police report, insurance claim, or another report to support their claim, as well as an explanation of the situation.

For Missing Documents

In order to prove eligibility for employment authorization, documents will still be required. If any of these were lost due to fire or any other causes, they will need to be replaced. Depending on the particular document, the required filing will be different. Some examples of documents that will need to be filed if they are lost or destroyed include:

Form I-94: Form I-102, an Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document Employment Authorization Document: Form I-765, which is an Application for Employment Authorization Green Card: Form I-90, which is an Application to Replace Permanent Residence Card, which can be filed online. Or, an interim evidence of permanent residence stamp (I-551 stamp) can be requested from a USCIS Field Office.

Potential Off-Campus Employment Opportunities for F-1 Students

For students that are experiencing severe economic problems due to unforeseen circumstances that they have no control over, employment authorization to work off-campus may be requested. Although, you must meet specific regulatory requirements. Some examples of unforeseen circumstances follow, but these do not include all possible circumstances.

Substantial unexpected expenses Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source of support Medical bills Losing on-campus employment or financial aid due to circumstances that are not your fault Significant fluctuations in the exchange rate or in the currency value

If you feel you qualify for employment authorization to work off-campus, you will need to submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with a copy of Form I-20, which is a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status to the USCIS. You should include any additional supporting materials along with this.

Make sure your Form I-20 includes an employment page that has been completed by your Designated School Official. This certifies that you are eligible for off-campus employment because of serious economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances that are beyond your control.

Should your request be approved, you might be allowed to work off-campus in intervals of a year until the estimated completion date for your existing course of study.

Employer Takeaways

It’s important for individuals and their employers to remember that the requirements for Form I-9 still need to be followed even in cases of natural disasters. Therefore, it is essential to review instructions on the proper way to verify the employment eligibility of employees who have lost or damaged their documents. Individuals should also be sure to update their address with the USCIS in order to avoid potential delays in processing.

When it comes to your employees, automation makes eligibility verification quick and simple. Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.