On January 17, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implemented significant changes to the renewal process for employment authorization documents (EAD) through the “Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers” final rule. One of the most significant changes is the elimination of the 90-day adjudication requirement for employment authorization applications. Current EAD holders should be mindful of these recent changes to avoid gaps in EAD validity, which would affect employability, and ensure to renew their EADs with sufficient time.
Although the 90-day processing timeframe has been eliminated, the final rule provides for an automatic 180-day extension of certain EAD categories to prevent a gap in EAD validity while the renewal application is adjudicated. However, only the following EAD categories are eligible for this automatic 180-day extension*:
- A03 – Refugees
- A05 – Asylees (Not Asylum Applicants)
- A07 – N8 o N9
- A08 – Citizens of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau
- A10 – Withholding of deportation or removal granted
- C09 – Pending adjustment of status
- C10 – Suspension of deportation applicants (filed before April 1, 1997); Cancellation of removal applicants and cancellation applicants under NACARA
- C16 – Adjustment based on continuous residence since January 1, 1972
- C20 – Pending I-700
- C22 – Pending I-687
- C24 – LIFE legalization
- C31 – VAWA self-petitioners with an approved Form I-360
- A12/C19 – Temporary protected status
If you do not qualify for an automatic extension, you may still benefit under the new provisions. USCIS will now accept renewal applications up to 180 days in advance of the EAD expiration for all categories. Filing renewal applications earlier than in prior years could help avoid a gap in employability.
*Your employment category is listed on the face of your EAD.
Antonini & Cohen
At Antonini & Cohen we understand the importance of maintaining a valid employment status in order to continue providing for your family. Our attorneys are here to help you navigate these changes. So please, do not hesitate to call us with questions about your employment eligibility under these new rules.