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Immigration Relief Measures for Individuals Affected by Typhoon Haiyan

Philippines TPS

As the human toll and tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan are only starting to come into full view, many of the victims and families are seeking assistance, including immigration-related relief from the U.S..

Earlier this week, we wrote of the effect of humanitarian-related immigration benefits that individuals facing catastrophe or the loss of a loved one might be eligible for, in the form of Humanitarian Parole and Humanitarian Reinstatement. These rare benefits, by and large, apply to individuals outside of the U.S.

Typhoon-Related Humanitarian Benefits Available Now

Earlier today came news from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that Filipinos–including those inside the U.S.–may benefit from a number of immigration relief measures.  USCIS recognizes that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to establish or maintain lawful immigration status in the United States. According to the agency, the following measures may be available:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
  • Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and
  • Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

The announcement of the above measures by the Immigration Service is welcome news for those suffering from and/or affected by the typhoon.  It is hoped that the measures can prevent some individuals from falling out of status or alleviate immigration-related hardship.  Individuals that believe they may qualify for the above should contact an immigration attorney to review their eligibility.

No Current Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Designation For the Philippines

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a designation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that due to significant adverse conditions in a country, the nationals of that country in the U.S. should be permitted to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period. Such individuals are allotted work authorization and are able to obtain a social security number. As of the time of writing, there has not been a designation of the Philippines for TPS, and it is not clear whether there will be. On November 13, 2013, the Directors of the Migrant Heritage Commission (a Filipino-American community organization based in the Washington DC area) sent a letter to President Obama, proposing that the U.S. government grant Temporary Protected Status to undocumented Filipinos living in the U.S. It is up to the President and his agencies–including DHS–whether to grant TPS. The government of the Philippines would need to make an official request to start the process. To access our Daily Philippines TPS Update, click here.  To discuss questions regarding a particular individual’s immigration options, schedule a consultation with Khurgel Immigration Law Firm for an evaluation.
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