OFLC, USCIS Issue Guidance on Hurricane Sandy Relief; USCIS Extends RFE Deadlines
The Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) issued a FAQ on extensions and reasonable-case accommodations in light of the damage done to certain East Coast areas in the United States as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Also, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a reminder on immigration benefits or relief that may be available to those affected.
The OFLC FAQ notes that the agency recognizes that some employers may not be able to respond in a timely manner to requests for information or documentation. Accordingly, OFLC said it will review storm-related requests for extensions individually.
OFLC provided the following contact information:
For questions or requests for extensions in replying to audits from the OFLC Chicago National Processing Center related to the programs listed below, e-mail TLC.firstname.lastname@example.org; Subject: Hurricane Sandy; or telephone the Center at (312) 886-8000.
- H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program
- H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Program
- H-1B Specialty Occupations Program
For questions or requests for extensions related to the issuance of a prevailing wage determination from OFLC’s National Prevailing Wage Center, e-mail FLC.PWD@dol.gov, Subject: Hurricane Sandy; or telephone the Center at (202) 693-8200.
For permanent labor certification (PERM) program-related questions or requests for extensions related to responding to audits or supervised recruitment instructions, including draft advertisements, e-mail PermSandy@dol.gov; Subject: Hurricane Sandy; or telephone the Center at (404) 893-0101.
USCIS reminded those affected by Hurricane Sandy of certain U.S. immigration benefits or relief that may be available to them.
USCIS said it understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual's ability to maintain lawful immigration status or obtain certain other immigration benefits. Eligible individuals may request or apply for temporary relief measures, including:
- a change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
- extension or re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
- expedited adjudication of off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
- expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications; and
- assistance to legal permanent residents (LPR) stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as permanent resident cards (green cards). USCIS said it and and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when LPRs are stranded in places that do not have a local USCIS office.
Where appropriate, USCIS said it may exercise its discretion to allow for delays in filing resulting from the hurricane. This may include, for example:
- assistance to those who have not appeared for an interview or submitted required forms of evidence. The affected person may show how the disrupting event affected his or her connection to USCIS and the ability to appear or submit documents as required; and
- assistance to those who have not been able to respond to Requests For Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID). USCIS said it "will extend the deadline for individuals to respond to RFEs or NOIDs by 30 days. This will apply to all RFEs and NOIDs with a deadline of October 26 through November 26, 2012. During this time, USCIS will not issue denials based on abandonment of an application or petition."
Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program may visit a local USCIS office for assistance. USCIS asks that affected visitors check whether their local USCIS office is open before going. Individuals affected by the hurricane who are at a U.S. airport may contact the nearest U.S. Customs and Border Protection office for assistance.
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