Information for Students Following the March 2011 Earthquake & Tsunami in Japan

Counseling & Crisis Support | Traveling to Japan | Donating to Relief Efforts | Emergency Assistance Fund | Immigration Concerns

On behalf of the entire Division of Student Affairs, our thoughts and prayers go out to those members of our UH Hilo ʻohana who have been impacted by the recent events in Japan.

Counseling and Crisis Support

Grief, anxiety and distress are not uncommon reactions to a natural disaster. The cumulative and extended nature of the events in Japan can compound the emotional response. Students experiencing emotional difficulty or just needing somebody to talk to can contact the following resources at UH Hilo:

  • Counseling Services (URL:
    • Phone: (808) 932-7465
    • Location: Student Services Building, Room 202 for appointments
  • Dean of Students Office
    • Phone: (808) 932-7472
    • Location: Student Services Building, Room 208 for appointments

If you need to speak with someone on an emergency basis during evenings, weekends or holidays, please call the ACCESS crisis hotline available 24 hours/7 days a week at 1-800-753-6879.  Additional information about ACCESS services, sponsored by the Hawaii State Department of Health, can be found at:

Travel to Japan

In support of its international education initiatives, UH Hilo sponsors several programs/activities, including study abroad and global exchange, which involve students traveling to Japan for academic pursuits. In light of recent events, before confirming travel to Japan, students are strongly urged to consult the US Department of State website for current travel advisories at

UH Hilo advises that students heed warnings to avoid travel to Japan at this time, but also respects that each individual has the right to make this decision of his or her own accord. Students are encouraged to consult with the Center for Global Education & Exchange via phone at (808) 932-7489 / 932-7488 or via email at, or via the web at Students may also contact International Student Services via phone at (808) 932-7472, via email at or via the web at

Donating to Relief Efforts

Global crises and natural disasters can bring out the best in individuals and organizations.  Unfortunately, they can also bring out the worst.  During this time, be cautious about solicitations you receive via email or by phone to donate to relief efforts in Japan or the Pacific region.  To avoid scams and fraudulent activity, be sure that the organization to which you are making contributions is reputable and operates with integrity.  Below are some relief efforts that students can support with confidence that their dollars are going to the intended cause.

  • Aloha for Japan ( is a local organization convened by Hawaii business leaders, members of the Japanese American community, Lt. Governor Brian Schatz and Japan Consul General Yoshihiko Kamo to coordinate statewide efforts to collect donations for victims.  Aloha for Japan T-shirts can be purchased from several retail outlets.  All proceeds go to support relief efforts in Japan.  Contact for T-shirts:  Donation checks can be mailed to: Aloha for Japan, 2454 South Beretania Street, Suite 201, Honolulu, HI 96826.
  • American Red Cross ( provides worldwide relief efforts in countries and regions affected by natural disasters. has made it very easy for individuals to contribute to American Red Cross efforts.  Go to the website and click on the box “Donate to the American Red Cross” to donate funds to the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief Fund.  You can also donate by visiting the ARC website directly.
  • Save the Children (  is a financially responsible agency dedicated to saving children’s lives in times of natural disaster and human conflict with food, medical care and education; they remain to help communities rebuild through long-term recovery programs.  Visit their website to learn how you can support their relief efforts in Japan.

Emergency Assistance Fund

The Institute of International Education (IIE), with support from the Freeman Foundation, has created an emergency grants program to help students from Japan on US campuses whose home country support has been devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. Japan-EAF (Emergency Assistance Fund) will provide grants of up to $5,000 to students from those regions hardest hit by the earthquakes and tsunami (including Miyagi, Fukushima, and Iwate prefectures) who are enrolled in US. colleges and universities and face serious financial difficulties due to the recent tragedy in their home country.

Students must be nominated by the University; they cannot apply directly. If a student believes they are eligible for the grant, he/she should contact International Student Services at (808) 932-7472 or as soon as possible. The first round of grant nominations were submitted on April 4th, 2011. If funding permits, nominations will be considered on a rolling basis after April 4th.

  • To be considered for an Emergency Assistance award of up to $5,000, the nominated student must: Demonstrate how their financial resources were seriously disrupted by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
  • Be enrolled in an accredited US higher education institution as of January 1, 2011
  • Be in good academic standing, as defined by the host campus
  • Have the appropriate non-immigration visa status (US citizens and permanent residents are ineligible to apply)

While preference will be given to degree-seeking undergraduate students, graduate and non-degree students with pressing needs will also be considered. For further information, please visit the IIE website.

Concerns Related to Immigration

The US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual's ability to establish or maintain lawful immigration status. Temporary relief measures available to eligible nationals of Japan may include:

  • Expedited employment authorization where appropriate
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship
  • Granting an application for change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the US, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired

For further information, please visit the USCIS website or contact International Student Services at (808) 932-7472 or You can also access a list of relevant questions and answers here.

This site was updated Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 3:00 PM HST.