The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced an extension of the maximum validity duration for some EAD categories to five years in an effort to address the ongoing backlog in processing Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).
According to a Times of India report, Foreign nationals with pending ‘Adjustment of Status Applications’ are one of the EAD groups addressed by this policy announcement.
The adjustment of status is the final phase in the green card application process and can take a few years.
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While this application is pending, applicants have the option to apply for an EAD, which grants them the ability to continue to work in the US. This new policy will be applicable to any eligible EAD applications that were pending or filed on or after September 27, 2023, added the report.
This development has been largely appreciated by US employers and immigrant workers such as H-1B visa holders who are on track for a green card – a significant number of whom are from India.
In the past, several individuals have suffered gaps in work authorisation due to processing delays.
According to the report, citing Immigration attorneys, H-4 spouses eligible for work authorisation or international students covered by the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, do not qualify for the extended EAD validity period.
Previously, EADs for Adjustment of Status applicants were only valid for two years, necessitating frequent extensions. The new rule is expected to reduce the need for extension applications.
“Adjustment of status and other applicants eligible to benefit from the new five-year maximum EAD validity period will not be required to renew their EADs as frequently as they did under the prior policy, reducing some administrative burden associated with their pending immigration processes. USCIS says that in making the policy change, the agency aims to significantly reduce the number of EAD renewal applications filed with the agency in the next several years, which should contribute to a reduction in case processing times and backlogs,” Times of India quoted Mitch Wexler, partner at Fragomen, a global immigration law firm, as saying.
Asylees, refugees, noncitizens who have been granted a withholding of removal, noncitizens whose petitions for asylum or a withholding of removal are still pending, and noncitizens who are requesting a suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal are additional EAD categories that are eligible for five-year validity periods.
With inputs from agencies