Just as with the earthquake in Haiti, the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan causes not only massive physical destruction but can significantly impact and complicate an affected person’s immigration status. Japanese citizens already in the United States may be logistically unable to comply with the terms of a visa status, perhaps because their status is expiring and there is no practical way to return to Japan. Those persons residing in Japan who are seeking visas to come to the United States may find it difficult to process a visa at a U.S. Consulate due to closures, cancellations and delays. Furthermore, as some businesses continue to evacuate personnel from Japan and in some cases seeking to temporarily transfer such personnel to other offices in Asia, special processes may have been established (for example, by immigration authorities in Hong Kong) to facilitate the processing of business visas to allow for such emergency relocations.
There are several general resources affected persons can reference for additional information:
- For Japanese nationals in the United States, for example visitors travelling under the Visa Waiver Program who are unable to depart the country before their status expiration, see the USCIS website;
- For Japanese residents who may be seeking visa services through a U.S. Consulate in Japan, visit the specific Consulates website. Specific information is posted at Consular websites, for example notices regarding visa appointments in Tokyo can be found at the Tokyo Consulate’s website; and
- For foreign nationals currently in Japan, visit the Immigration Bureau of Japan website for current information.
Persons affected by the Japan crisis are encouraged to contact the immigration professional with whom they normally work for specific guidance.