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Disaster Relief and Immigration Status

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Immigration Status

A natural disaster can affect your United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) application, petition or immigration status. If you are represented by an immigration attorney, contact them first for questions related to your immigration case.


  • Extensions & Changes of Status: If you have fallen out of status due to a disaster, you can apply for an extension or change in status if you can show how falling out of status is directly connected to the disaster.
  • Document Replacement: If you have lost your USCIS-issued documents through no fault of your own, you can get them replaced by using the forms below (available online at www.uscis.gov) or by calling 1.800.870.3676.


I had to move because of the disaster. Do I need to file a change of address?

Yes. If you do not update your address, you will miss important updates and notices from USCIS about your case. If you have a pending application with USCIS, first notify your immigration attorney if you are represented. You can update your address with USCIS by completing Form AR-11 and sending it by mail or online if you qualify. https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do.

If you have an appeal pending with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), notify your attorney. You must complete and file Form EOIR 33/BIA in person or by mail in the immigration court where your appeal is pending. No online change of address is available for the BIA. Get Form EOIR 33/BIA from the Department of Justice website at https://www.justice.gov/eoir/list-downloadable-eoir-forms

Will accepting disaster relief affect my application for permanent resident status or get a visa

 No. USCIS does not consider acceptance of emergency disaster relief to be public cash assistance that would affect the eligibility of you or your household members to become lawful permanent residents or to get a visa. See http://www.uscis.gov/news/fact-sheets/public-charge-fact-sheet

I missed my immigration deadline/appointment due to the disaster. What now?

 If you have not appeared for an interview or submitted evidence, you may show how the disrupting event affected your connection to USCIS and your ability to appear or submit documents as required. 

I am a foreign student whose financial support has been affected by disaster. Can I get help?

You can’t qualify for FEMA cash assistance, but you might qualify for a Student Employment Authorization. If a disaster has affected your ability to support yourself, you may need to work off-campus. 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 show that you are from an affected country and you have been recommended for employment by the Designated School Official (DSO), you may be to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. More at http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations.

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