USCIS Increases Automatic Extension of Certain Work Permits

On May 3, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had issued a Temporary Final Rule (TFR) that temporarily increases the automatic extension period for some employment authorization and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for up to 540 days. The increase was effective May 4, 2022. The increase aims to help avoid gaps in employment for noncitizens and their employers as they seek renewal of their EAD applications.

Reasons for the Increase in the Automatic Extension

The previously automatic extension for noncitizens with pending EAD renewal applications was 180 days. However, due to the overwhelming number of pending applications, the 180-day period has been insufficient for USCIS to adjudicate them. As a result, EADs have lapsed, causing these individuals to be unable to work. This situation has resulted in individuals being unable to support their families and employers experiencing disruptions in their workforces.

USCIS is currently facing unprecedented backlogs of EAD renewal applications and other applications for various reasons. Financial pressures have led to hiring freezes and furlough threats. Likewise, shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic greatly slowed the processing of all immigration-related applications and petitions. As USCIS began to tackle these backlogs in 2021, a sudden and drastic increase in EAD initial and renewal applications occurred, further exacerbating the situation.

EAD Categories Eligible for the Increased Automatic Extension

The TFR only applies to EAD categories that already qualified for the previous automatic 180-day extension. In addition, eligible applicants must have a timely filed Form I-765 renewal application pending during the 18 months following the effective date of the TFR to qualify for the extended automatic extension period.

Individuals who have a pending EAD renewal application but whose 180-day automatic extension already has lapsed, causing their EADs to expire, will now have an additional employment authorization period. Their EADs will become newly valid on May 4, 2022. The newly valid EADs will remain valid for up to 540 days from the expiration date of their EAD. Therefore, they will be able to resume employment during this period so long as they are otherwise eligible to work.

Furthermore, individuals with pending renewal applications that are still within the 180-day automatic extension period will receive up to 360 additional days of automatic extension, for a total of 540 days past the expiration date of their current EADs.

Finally, individuals who have a valid EAD and a pending renewal application on May 4, 2022, or who file a timely EAD renewal application before the TFR expiration date receive a 540-day automatic extension if their EAD expires during the renewal process.

Expiration of the TFR and 540-Day Automatic Extension Period for EADs

The TFR will automatically expire on October 26, 2023. The automatic extension period for these EADs will revert to 180 days as of October 27, 2023. This 180-day automatic extension period still will only be available for individuals who timely file their Form I-765 renewal applications.

An individual’s 540-day automatic extension for an EAD will expire either upon receiving notice of the USCIS final decision on their EAD renewal application or the expiration of the 540-day automatic extension, whichever occurs first.

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