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USCIS Extends Renewal Period for Work Permits to 540 Days

Up to 800,000 workers could avoid loss of work authorization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it is temporarily increasing the automatic extension period of expiring work permits for hundreds of thousands of renewal applicants.

The temporary final rule automatically extending the validity of employment authorization documents (EADs) from 180 days to 540 days from the EAD’s stated expiration date was published in the Federal Register on April 8.

The increased extension period will apply to eligible EAD applicants who have properly filed renewal applications on or after Oct. 27, 2023, as long as these applications remain pending on April 8 and the applicant’s current EAD or 180-day auto-extension period has not expired.

The temporary final rule will also apply to eligible EAD renewal applicants who timely file their Form I-765 renewal application between April 8, 2024, and Sept. 30, 2025.

The temporary measure will prevent work-authorized individuals from having their employment authorization and documentation lapse while waiting for USCIS to adjudicate pending EAD renewal applications, said USCIS Director Ur Jaddou.

“Over the last year, USCIS reduced processing times for most EAD categories, supporting an overall goal to improve work access to eligible individuals,” she said. “However, we also received a record number of employment authorization applications, impacting our renewal mechanisms.”

USCIS has been the target of lawsuits in recent years over processing delays that have forced some people to lose their jobs as they wait for EADs to be renewed.

Lynden Melmed, an attorney with Berry Appleman & Leiden in Washington, D.C., and former USCIS chief counsel, explained that generally, automatic EAD extensions remain valid for a maximum of 180 days after expiration, but USCIS acknowledged that the longer extension is necessary because of application volume and processing times.

“The agency said that without the longer extensions, nearly 800,000 EAD renewal applicants would be in danger of experiencing a lapse in their employment authorization, and approximately 60,000 to 80,000 employers would be negatively impacted as a result of such a lapse,” he said.

Work permits are granted to various categories of immigrants, and those covered under this policy change include green card applicants, the spouses of H-1B recipients, workers granted Temporary Protected Status and asylum seekers. The rule does not apply to applicants seeking initial approval for work authorization.

This is the second time the Biden administration has announced a 540-day EAD extension. The first extension, announced in 2022, sunset on Oct. 27, 2023, when automatic extensions reverted to 180 days. All categories of foreign national workers covered by the 2022 extension will be covered by the new one, as well.

Some experts believe that the problem of expiring work authorization is unlikely to reoccur because USCIS in September 2023 began granting five-year EADs to eligible workers, rather than the two-year EADs that were standard before, giving the agency more time to prepare for any future waves of renewals.

In the new temporary final rule, the agency is also seeking comments from the public on whether to permanently implement the maximum 540-day auto-extension or whether another solution might be more effective for eligible EAD renewal applicants. Comments can be submitted through June 7.


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