USCIS: Ebola Outbreak-Related Immigration Relief Measures

by Joseph McKeown

As the worst Ebola crisis in history continues for West Africa--with over 3,000 suspected and confirmed cases--US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has introduced relief measures for nationals of the affected countries who are currently in the US. USCIS--which has offered relief measures in response to such previous natural catastrophes and extreme situations as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Hurricane Sandy, and the Icelandic volcano eruption--says the following may be available (when specifically requested) to affected nationals of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
  • 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 (currently in the United States) of U.S. citizens;
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and
  • Consideration for waiver of fees associated with USCIS benefit applications.

USCIS has more information here about measures for these "special situations," and notes, for example, that applicants requesting an extension or change-of-status due to the crisis must "show how it is directly connected to the disaster." Meanwhile, DJs in Africa are releasing rap and dance tracks ("Ebola Is Real") to educate about Ebola and prevent the spread of the disease.