How Special Circumstances May Impact USCIS Applications, Petitions, or Requests

For individuals in the process of applying, petitioning, or making immigration requests to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), certain situations such as natural disasters may impact processing. 

The following are some of the steps that USCIS will take depending on the special circumstances affecting an individual’s case.

Inability to Pay Fees

If an individual is unable to pay a fee for a particular USCIS benefit or service, it may be possible to receive a fee waiver by filing Form I-912.

Changes of Status and Extension Requests

USCIS may consider how a special situation impacted an applicant’s ability to depart. Even if an individual fails to apply for a change of status or extension prior to the expiration of their period of admission, USCIS may be able to forgive that delay in the event of unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances.

Unforeseen Circumstances Resulting in Financial Difficulties for F-1 Students

Students applying for F-1 student visas suffering from economic hardships as a result of uncontrollable and unpredictable situations may be able to request employment authorization for off-campus work, provided they meet specific regulatory criteria. 

Some of the situations affecting F-1 students may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost on-campus employment or financial aid
  • Inordinate surges in the cost of living or tuition
  • Fluctuating exchange rates or currency values
  • Unforeseen changes in the financial status of sources of support
  • Other costs that weren’t anticipated or controllable

Students can apply for financial relief by submitting Form I-765 and Form I-20, along with other supporting documents.

For some students facing hardships due to natural disasters, military conflicts and war, or national or international economic crises, it may be possible to request Special Student Relief from USCIS.

Employees and Employers Affected by Special Situations

If employees or employers are affected by special situations, all requirements for Form I-9 will still apply. For employers, E-Verify will still be available via E-Verify employer agents or the E-Verify web portal.

Employees completing Form I-9 for business visas can follow information included in the form if their documents were damaged, lost, or stolen. Instructions are also available on the USCIS website.

Inability to Appear for Biometrics Appointments, Appear for Interviews, or Respond to Requests for Evidence

If individuals are unable to appear for appointments or interviews, or can’t respond to a request for evidence, they may be able to explain what circumstances were behind missed appointments or responses.

In addition to the above circumstances, some immigrants may qualify for special immigrant visas.