With the Ebola virus causing what’s widely viewed as one of
the worst health crises in world history, it’s entirely understandable that
visitors to the U.S from any of the most affected countries would hesitate to
return there at this time.
In response, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS) has announced several measures that it will take in order to facilitate
longer stays of citizens and nationals of the most affected countries, namely
Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
If you are from one of those countries and are currently in
the United States, you may request any of the following forms of relief:
- A change or extension of your nonimmigrant
(temporary) status. In a major departure from the rules, you may actually submit
this request even after your allowed stay (shown on your I-94)
has expired. See Nolo’s article, “Filling Out Form I-539 to Extend Nonimmigrant
Visa,” for how to extend your stay.
- An extension of parole (most likely humanitarian
granted to foreign residents with emergency situations requiring them to travel
to the United States).
- Expedited (quick) processing and approval of
many types of applications, including employment authorization (where already
allowed under the person’s visa or status, or allowed to F-1 students who are
now experiencing severe economic hardship) or petitions for family-based visas
or green cards.
- A fee waiver if the USCIS processing fees are
more than the applicant for immigration-related benefits can afford.
For more information, see the USCIS announcement, “Ebola
Outbreak-related Immigration Relief Measures to Nationals of Guinea, Liberia
and Sierra Leone Currently in the United States.”
And note that these measures are only available to people already
in the United States.
Effective date: Oct 13, 2014