Temporary Relief Following Earthquake and Tsunami

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued an advisory on March 11, 2011 regarding relief for foreign nationals who are stranded in the United States following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This advisory provides instructions as to how to obtain permission to remain in the U.S. for an additional 30 days. The procedures have been summarized here for the benefit of MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers.

Visa Waiver Travelers

Many visitors from Japan travel on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). VWP travelers, who have reached or are nearing the end of their authorized stay, may be granted an additional 30 days before having to depart. The instructions state that those near international airports may contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection at those airports for assistance. All others may obtain assistance through the USCIS local offices.

Other Nonimmigrants

Foreign nationals who hold other nonimmigrant, temporary statuses, but cannot depart due to the earthquake and tsunami, can request an additional 30 days through their local USCIS offices. The instructions indicate that it is necessary to bring one’s passport, I-94 arrival / departure record, and evidence of being stranded.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) often makes accommodations for foreign nationals who cannot depart the United States due to natural disasters. The current notice allows for a 30-day extension. Readers who may be impacted by this situation need to regularly check MurthyDotCom and the USCIS WebSite for additional information, as attempts are made to stabilize travel and life in Japan.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.