Last month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a few measures to ease the backlog of Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards. These include a Temporary Final Rule (TFR) on lengthening the automatic extension period for employment authorization and EADs, available to certain EAD renewal applicants.
The provision to extend the work permits to up to 540 days has been effective from May 4, 2022. As per the agency, this extension helps avoid gaps in employment for noncitizens with pending EAD renewal applications and stabilizes the continuity of the operation for U.S. employers.
USCIS Director Ur Mendoza Jaddou stated that the agency recognized the current 180-day automatic extension for employment authorization as insufficient to address pending EAD caseloads. The temporary rule announced by USCIS will provide those noncitizens otherwise eligible for the automatic extension an opportunity to maintain employment and provide critical support for their families while avoiding further disruption for U.S. employers.
For several years, USCIS could not efficiently complete the caseloads for various reasons, including the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, before the agency could recover from the fiscal and operational difficulties, there was a sudden and dramatic increase in EAD initial and renewal filings, as explained in the TFR.
The TFR, which only applies to those EAD categories currently eligible for an automatic up to 180-day extension, will temporarily provide up to 360 days of additional automatic extension time (for a total of up to 540 days) to eligible applicants with a timely-filed Form I-765 renewal application pending during the 18-month period after publication of the TFR while USCIS continues to work through pending caseloads that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Noncitizens with a pending EAD renewal application whose 180-day automatic extension has lapsed and whose EAD has expired will be granted an additional period of employment authorization and EAD validity, beginning on May 4, 2022, and lasting up to 540 days from the expiration date of their EAD, such that they may resume employment if they are still within the up to 540-day automatic extension period and are otherwise eligible.
• Noncitizens with a pending renewal application still covered under the 180-day automatic extension will be granted an additional up to 360-day extension, for a total of up to 540 days past the expiration of the current EAD.
• Noncitizens with a pending renewal application and valid EAD on May 4, 2022, or who timely file an EAD renewal application before Oct. 27, 2023, will be granted an automatic extension of up to 540 days if their EAD expires before the renewal application is processed.
As per USCIS, the automatic extensions of employment authorization and EAD validity will revert to the up to 180-day period from Oct. 27, 2023, for those eligible applicants who timely file Form I-765 renewal applications.