Immigration Protections for Nepali Nationals

An earthquake known as the Gorkha, hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. In the wake of Nepal’s devastating earthquake, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced some immigration relief measure for those affected.

Affected Nepali nationals can apply to extend their nonimmigrant visa stay in the U.S. Their requests for change in non-immigrant status or extension of status will be accepted by USCIS even if they file applications after their status expires. Those in the country on parole status can apply for re-parole. USCIS will process applications for parole and employment authorization documents filed by Nepali nationals faster. F-1 students affected by the earthquake and who are suffering economic hardship can request expedited adjudication of applications for off-campus employment authorization. Likewise, fee waivers will be granted to the affected applicants, if they prove that they are unable to pay the fees. USCIS will also help those affected by the earthquake to replace lost or damaged immigration papers and green cards.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has asked U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Nepali nationals living in the U.S. TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to foreign nationals whose countries are affected by natural disasters and who may not be able to return to their home countries due to devastation. If the Nepali nationals living here are granted TPS, they would be able to remain here until their home country recovers.

The U.S. has already granted this temporary status to the nationals of countries like Honduras, Haiti and Nicaragua that have been affected by natural disasters. If the Nepali nationals are granted TPS, they will not be deported from the U.S. to earthquake stricken Nepal. This temporary status will also help them get work permits and travel authorization. TPS would let them remain in the U.S. legally for a temporary time period. TPS recipients cannot get green cards or U.S. citizenship.

The Obama administration or the DHS have not made any announcements about granting TPS to affected Nepali nationals. However, those in the U.S. can make now use of the immigration protections currently offered by USCIS.