Hurricane Isaac is a tropical cyclone system that is now gone, but the slow-moving weather system has left a great deal of devastation behind, especially in the northern Gulf Coast area. In addition to the nine fatalities confirmed from the storm in the US, the storm, which became a hurricane on August 28 before touching down near the Mississippi River and again in Louisiana, many people were struggling with power outages and property damages as well as injuries even well into September.
Following the storm, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a statement, reminding the public that some immigration benefits might be available to those affected by Hurricane Isaac. Qualified individuals can apply for temporary benefits and relief such as:
1) Re-parole or parole extension for those who have already been granted parole
2) An extension or change of nonimmigrant status (this may be available for qualified individuals affected by Hurricane Isaac even if the authorized period of admission has expired)
3) For F-1 status students experiencing severe financial pressures due to Hurricane Isaac, expedited adjudication of requests for work authorization (for off campus work) may be available)
4) Expedited processing and advance parole for advance parole applicants
5) Expedited processing of work authorization
6) Expedited processing for family-based immigrant petitions (only for immediate relatives who have current priority dates)
These changes and types of relief are being made because in some cases those affected by Hurricane Isaac may be suffering from financial distress due to the weather system and may need assistance. In some cases, the changes wrought by the storm may make it difficult for individuals to keep lawful immigration status, and the temporary relief is intended to help with that.
In addition, the USCIS has made special provisions for those whose travel plans have been affected by Hurricane Isaac. For example, permanent lawful residents who have not been able to return home due to the storm and who are now stranded without valid travel or immigration documents will get help from the Department of State and the USCIS. Those who have been affected by Hurricane Isaac while traveling under the Visa Waiver Program can seek help through a USCIS local office. Those who are at a U.S. airport and affected by Hurricane Isaac may contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office nearest them. More information is available through the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.