The Government works with deadlines. Unlike State Court where lawyers can argue that they are not ready and reset the date of their hearing, we attorneys working with federal agencies have to such leverage. We are given an audit notice by the Department of Labor, and we have to answer in 20 days. No matter if your mother dies, or you have a tragedy. Unlike State court lawyers, we also cannot take holidays, unless some other lawyer covers us.
So what happens when there is an act of nature? I had to file a request for evidence for a case when Hurricane Rita caused Houston to shut down and flee town. I took my fedex envelops with me on a 10 hour journey to Austin, and mailed them from there. However, recently, with major hurricanes, floodings, etc, the Citizenship and Immigration Services issues guidelines. With the advent of websites to contact the Government is relatively easy. However, one will still need the receipt number to communicate with the Government.
When forces of nature happen, the Government offices are immediately closed and appointments are rescheduled. However, the lawyer and the clients are still left with the burden of answering and filing.
With the heavy rains paralyzing Baton Rouge, these are the guidelines from Citizenship and Immigration Services.
USCIS offers immigration relief measures that may help people affected by unforeseen circumstances, such as disasters like the recent severe storms and flooding in Louisiana.
These measures may be available upon request:
• Change of nonimmigrant status or extension of nonimmigrant stay for an individual currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
• Re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
• Expedited processing of advance parole requests;
• Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
• Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate;
• Consideration of fee waivers due to an inability to pay;
• Assistance for those who received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to appear for an interview, submit evidence or respond in a timely manner;
• Replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card);
• Rescheduling of a biometrics appointment.
Note: When making a request, please explain how the severe storms or flooding created a need for the requested relief.
However, to contact the Citizenship and Immigration Services, you will still need the receipt number. If any lawyer’s office is flooded, I hope the Government will understand. Global warming will cause more and more natural disasters every year. A humane Government agency will be appreciated. On the other hand, a lawyer should save important documents in the cloud for easier access.
For more information please contact Immigration Lawyer, Annie Banerjee in Houston