When filing for an adjustment of status (AOS), which enables individuals to apply for a Green Card while still present in the United States, applicants may simultaneously apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole (AP), which allows individuals to travel back to the United States without applying for a visa. Historically, EAD and AP applications have been adjudicated concurrently and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a combination card or “combo card” that provides both work and travel authorization. The USCIS recently issued an alert confirming the agency will decouple EAD and AP applications filed concurrently, where possible, to improve efficiency and reduce processing times.
During the pandemic, processing times have drastically increased. EAD applications based on a pending application for AOS are taking over 20 months for adjudication and AP applications are taking over 8 months for adjudication. Given these extreme processing times, USCIS is making an effort to clear their backlog and improve processing times by decoupling adjudication of the EAD and AP applications filed based on a pending application for AOS. The strategy moving forward, when possible, is for USCIS to adjudicate the EAD application first without a notation for AP, and if approved, issue the EAD. Once the EAD has been approved, USCIS will then separately adjudicate the AP application and if approved, issue a separate AP document.
According to USCIS, this new procedure took effect on February 1, 2022. This change will hopefully help minimize disruption to workflow by ensuring continued work authorization for employees.