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Will the United States Grant Special Immigrant Status for Nepal Earthquake Victims?

April 29, 2015

View of Nepal with buildings collapsed and smoke risingIn the wake of the tragic earthquake that devastated much of Nepal, the international community has been quick to pledge aid and resources. The U.S. has already pledged $10 million in aid for humanitarian needs as well as search-and-rescue efforts. But two United States democrats have urged the Department of Homeland Security to take further action by granting temporary immigrant status for Nepalese nationals affected by the country’s earthquake. Similar to the situation after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, death tolls are rising every day and essentials like food and water remain scarce in Nepal.

In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security took measures to rescue Haitians suffering by granting visitor visas to 1,300 Haitians and humanitarian parole to 1,400 Haitians. Essentially, those Haitians who had visa applications on file with the National Visa Center were pushed through the waiting line and granted status to travel to the United States for a temporary period. Humanitarian parole granted legal status for those who required medical care to stay and work for up to one year. The department has approved 47,000 of 54,000 applications for “temporary protected status (TPS).”

The Hill reports that under the proposed legislation, Nepalese applicants would be eligible for TPS if they had been legally present in the U.S. since April 25, or the date of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The status would be granted for 18 months. The question remains whether the United States will enact legislation to offer reprieve to those in Nepal.

Since the earthquake, we have met with a number of our clients of Nepalese descent to keep them informed of the immigration situation as it unfolds. We will continue to provide updates and consultation as more information becomes available. For U.S. Citizens in Nepal, including those on Mt. Everest, in need of assistance please contact the U.S. Embassy at +977-423-4100 or by email at ConsKTM@state.gov. To inquire about a U.S. Citizen in Nepal in need of emergency assistance, please contact NepalEmergencyUS@state.gov or visit https://tfa.state.gov/ccd – select “2015 Nepal Earthquake” and provide as much information as possible, or call 1-888-407-4747.

For more on this story, visit The Hill.