Immigration-Related Relief Individuals Stranded in U.S. Due to Earthquake and Tsunami Devastation

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has announced that relief will be provided to certain Japanese and Other Nationals from the Pacific who are stranded in the United States due to the earthquake and tsunami devastation that occurred in March. Individuals who have exceeded or are about to exceed the authorized period of stay in the U.S. will be provided up to an additional 30 days to depart, USCIS said in a March 11, 2011, notice.

Visa Waiver Program Travelers

Visitors at an airport who are traveling under the Visa Waiver Program should contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  All visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program who are not at an airport should contact a local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office

Non-Immigrant Visa Travelers

Visitors traveling under a nonimmigrant visa should also visit a local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office


The following documents are necessary: your passport, evidence that you are stranded (such as an itinerary for the cancelled flight), and your I-94 departure record.

Additional Immigration Relief Options

The USCIS website’s Special Situations  page outlines additional relief that may be available to individuals from countries impacted by natural catastrophes that affect their  stays in the United States.  The following options may be available, upon request, to those affected by natural catastrophes and other extreme situations:

  • Extensions & Changes of Status

The USCIS says, “We recognize that when affected by a disaster you may, through no fault of your own, fall out of status. When applying for an extension or change in status due to a disaster, we may consider your request if you show how it is directly connected to the disaster.”

  • Fee Waiver

A fee waiver may be obtained from the USCIS.  It provides, “If you are unable to pay the fee for a USCIS service or benefit, you may request that your fee be waived for certain forms by filing a Request for Fee Waiver, Form I-912 (or a written request).”

  • Employment Authorization

Students may obtain employment.  The USCIS says, “As an academic student, you may need to work off-campus if a disaster has affected your ability to support yourself. The disaster may occur in the United States and prevent you from working on-campus or the disaster may occur overseas and affect your economic support. If you can demonstrate that you are from an affected country or region and you have been recommended for such employment by the Designated School Official (DSO), you may be eligible to receive employment authorization when filing the I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.”

  • Document Replacement

The USCIS says, “If you have lost your USCIS-issued documents through no fault of your own, you may show your need for replacing the documents.”

Additional information concerning USCIS humanitarian programs is available at or by calling the National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.