There is a glimmer of hope for Indian immigrants living in United States amidst the cloud of uncertainty after recent layoffs across big tech firms. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has rolled out a new policy, PA-2023-18, that unveils a new blueprint providing guidance on Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) in the face of pressing circumstances.
The new policy framework carves a legal path for beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions who encounter delays due to backlogs in visa availability. A reform that can prove to be a vital lifeline for Indian workers in the US, the policy aims to alleviate the disruptive impact of unexpected job loss or other unfavourable circumstances that may jeopardize their status.
The policy will be particularly benefiting the Indians living in US because many of them are in the 100+ year green card backlog for EB-2/3 and losing a job means one has 60 days to find a new one or risk leaving the country despite being here for 10+yrs and setting up a life.
How will new US Immigration rules help Indian immigrants
Predominantly, Indian professionals working in the US under H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant visas stand to gain from this policy pivot. As per the updated provisions mentioned in the press statement issued by USCIS, they may apply for EADs under compelling circumstances, such as serious illness and disability, employer dispute or retaliation, other substantial harm to the applicant, or significant disruption to the employer.
While uncertainty often clouds the prospect of sudden job loss for Indian immigrants, this policy measure works as a safety net, ensuring their financial stability while they navigate their way towards more secure opportunities. The policy also outlines the categories of evidence that applicants can furnish to demonstrate compelling circumstances. These may include school or higher education enrolment records or mortgage documents, substantiating the potential hardship if forced to sell their property at a loss, disrupt children’s education, and relocate to India.
This fresh directive from the USCIS serves as a pragmatic approach to address the plight of immigrant workers, especially those from India, who make up a significant portion of the US IT workforce. The policy further underlines that an individual with a valid EAD based on compelling circumstances will not accrue unlawful presence, safeguarding them against abrupt disruptions in their journey towards permanent residency.
Furthermore, this move bolsters the sense of security for the families of these professionals, their dependents, too, can apply for EADs based on compelling circumstances, adding another layer of assurance in an otherwise complex immigration landscape.
Eligibility criteria for policy benefits
According to the details mentioned in the policy the eligibility criteria extends to applicants who are principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, in either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd employment-based preference category.
Applicant needs to be on a valid E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1 nonimmigrant status or authorized grace period when they file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Click here to know more about eligibility