U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) of the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration recently released information about immigration services and relief that may help people affected by emergency situations, including severe storms such as Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut.
USCIS. The following USCIS services may be available on a discretionary basis upon request for individuals who have been directly affected by Hurricane Florence or Typhoon Mangkhut, USCIS said:
- Changing nonimmigrant status or extending nonimmigrant stay for an individual currently in the United States. If a person does not apply for the extension or change before his or her authorized period of admission expires, USCIS may excuse the delay if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the applicant’s control;
- Re-parole for those to whom USCIS previously granted parole;
- Expedited processing of advance parole requests;
- Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
- Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate;
- Consideration of fee waivers due to an inability to pay;
- Extension of response time or acceptance of a late response to a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny;
- Rescheduling an interview with USCIS;
- Expedited replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card); and
- Rescheduling a biometrics appointment.
USCIS said that when making such a request, the applicant should explain how Hurricane Florence or Typhoon Mangkhut is related to the need for the requested relief.
OFLC. Hurricane Florence generated significant damage to businesses in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and other states, OFLC noted. The agency accordingly established internal procedures that recognize, as a result of the storm, that employers and/or their representative(s) may not be able to timely respond to a request for information or documentation, such as an audit. OFLC said it “will extend the time to respond for employers affected by the storm.” Extensions will be granted “for issues that arise from storm-related conditions, including delays caused as a result of the storm, as well as those delays that may have occurred as a result of storm preparations in the week before the storm,” OFLC said.
The OFLC announcement discusses the effects of the storm on mail delivery, email delivery, advising OFLC of new mailing addresses and contact information, and applicability of due date deadline extensions.
For applications in the H-2A, H-2B, and PERM programs, and requests for prevailing wages, where either the employer or its attorney or agent is located in a Hurricane Florence major disaster area (the counties and parishes that have been or are later designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as disaster areas eligible for individual or public assistance), OFLC said it is postponing certain regulatory and procedural deadlines. Specifically, OFLC “is extending deadlines for employer responses to Atlanta National Processing Center (ANPC), Chicago National Processing Center (CNPC), and National Prevailing Wage Center issued audit requests, requests for additional information, requests for reconsideration, and similar requests that have deadlines,” OFLC said. Extensions of time to appeal either (1) agency denials of labor certifications, debarments, revocations, or other agency actions related to the labor certification to the Office of Administrative Law Judges, or (2) adverse final agency actions on such matters to a federal court, must be made in each case to the presiding authority, the agency said.