The details: The move tacks on an additional 360 days to an existing 180-day extension mechanism available to most, but not all, work permits. That grace period has long been built into the system in order to account for the potential bureaucratic delays and minimize the disruptive effect on workers’ lives.
USCIS Director Ur Jaddou said the current 180-day window “is clearly insufficient.”
“This temporary rule 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,” she said in a news release.
Context: It will immediately benefit tens of thousands of workers who filed for a renewal, but whose applications were still pending at the end of the 180 days. A much larger number will be able to continue to legally work over the duration of the emergency policy as more permits are due to run out.
Work permit holders can seek renewal up to six months before their documents’ scheduled expiration.
The Biden administration has sought to make headway on a number of problems at the agency that have fueled the mounting backlog.
The agency says it was shortchanged during the Trump years, as the previous administration sought to ratchet down immigration to the U.S. and increase scrutiny of applicants. Disruptions to government operations during the Covid-19 pandemic only exacerbated its challenges.
What’s next: The policy is set to last for 18 months before reverting back to the 180-day extension framework at the end of October 2023.
The agency says the move will give it time to implement several of the other changes it has set up to curtail delays, onboard additional staff and increase processing efficiency.