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USCIS extends validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) for some foreign nationals: Key details and information

The Biden administration announced a key initiative earlier this week that could have a significant positive impact on certain foreign nationals.

Beginning October 1, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase the maximum validity period for both initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) up to five years for some foreign nationals, including those applying for adjustment of status.

Before the updated guidance, EADs for this group were valid in increments of up to two years, with the possibility of extension.

“The increased validity period will reduce the frequency with which noncitizens must file to renew their work authorization,” A fact sheet from the Biden administration about the new guidance read. “This is anticipated to also reduce the associated workload and processing times, which will allow USCIS to concentrate efforts on initial work authorization caseload.”

The applicable foreign nationals should benefit greatly from the updated guidance. USCIS has been plagued by extended backlogs, resultant from the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. The extended EAD validity period should reduce the need for those seeking adjustment of status to repeatedly apply for EAD extensions while their cases are pending, therefore avoiding and potentially reducing the backlog.

The extended EAD validity period will also apply to refugees, foreign nationals granted asylum, recipients of withholding of removal, as well as foreign nationals applying for asylum or cancellation of removal.

What is an employment authorization document (EAD)?

Employment authorization documents (EAD) are used by certain foreign nationals to prove they are eligible to work in the United States for a specific length of time.

Employment authorization documents are usually required for foreign nationals who:

  • Are in a nonimmigrant visa status that requires evidence of employment authorization (Asylum, Refugee, U Immigrant).
  • Are in a status that requires permission to work from USCIS. This could include foreign nationals with a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, or Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal. Further, F-1 or M-1 students usually need to apply for an EAD as their status does not allow them to work in the U.S. “without first seeking permission from USCIS.”

Permanent residents do not need to apply for an EAD as a green card can be used as evidence of employment authorization. Those with an H-1, L-1, O or P visa also usually do not need an EAD, as their status authorizes them to work for a specific employer.

Additional guidance

The Biden administration also announced earlier this week multiple other new policies designed to “increase border enforcement.” These initiatives include deploying additional military personnel to support border efforts and combat smuggling, expediting certain family removals nationwide, increasing DHS holding and processing capacity, and increasing international collaboration.

Additionally, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended and redesignated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) “for 18 months for individuals that were residing in the United States on or before July 31, 2023.” The measure will allow about 472,000 more Venezuelan nationals to apply for TPS, according to the DHS.

Further reading

USCIS increases automatic work authorization extension length for certain EAD renewal applicants

Backlogs and delays: Analyzing the policies implemented by USCIS to reduce burdens on the immigration system

USCIS publishes important updates regarding backlogs, premium processing and employment authorization documents

DHS agrees to another settlement which should benefit dependents of H-1B and L-1 visa holders

Latest updates regarding USCIS’ new ‘Bona Fide Determination’ process; Supreme Court’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) decision

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm at 704-442-8000 or via email with any questions.

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