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Devastation in Japan: Immigration Relief for Japanese Nationals

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By Elizabeth Veit

The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have devastated the island. While citizens search for their loved ones they must also grapple with the threat of nuclear meltdown, loss of electricity, and shortage of food and water. These are but a few of the immediate concerns the country will struggle with in the upcoming months. Response and recovery from the devastation will take years.

While this catastrophic event seems far away, the actions of a few have a large impact on the lives of Japanese citizens. From immigration benefits to individual donations, the United States government and its citizens have the power to reach out a humanitarian hand to our ally during this time of crisis.

WASHINGTON—In light of the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds Japanese nationals of certain U.S. immigration benefits available upon request.

When countries experience disaster, the federal government frequently prolongs individual eligibility to remain in the United States for immigration purposes based on humanitarian grounds. Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an 18-month period. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) then extended the deadline for eligible Haitians to apply for Temporary Protected Status in the United States. In September 2010 the Department of Homeland Security announced the suspension of certain requirements for employment authorization for Haitian students residing in the United States.

On December 9, 2010 President Obama signed the Help Haiti Act of 2010 making it possible for Haitian orphans paroled in the U.S. to obtain status as lawful permanent residents and obtain a green card.

Similarly, in response to the recent devastation in Japan, USCIS posted a reminder to Japanese nationals that there are a number of options available for remaining in the United States lawfully or assisting a family member in coming to the United States. Japanese nationals in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa may be eligible to extend their nonimmigrant visa even where the application period has expired. USCIS has offered expedited adjudication and approval of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 Japanese students experiencing economic hardship. The Service is also offering expedited processing of family-based petitions for immediate relatives of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents. Expedited employment authorizations may also be available to eligible applicants.

For assistance with your nonimmigrant visa, please consult with expert immigration lawyers at Beach-Oswald Immigration Attorneys at www.boilapc.com.

For more information on immigration benefits for Japanese nationals visit the USCIS website at: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=d219c337ab5ce210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

Elizabeth Veit

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