DHS Regulatory Changes Impact Employment Authorization Document Renewals

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced regulatory changes that apply to certain individuals’ work authorization in the United States. These changes will go into effect on January 17, 2017.

The first major change eliminates the requirement under the old regulations that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) adjudicate Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applications within 90 days of receipt. Without this deadline, individuals can now expect their initial EAD applications and their EAD renewal applications to take longer than 90 days to be processed and approved.

However, the new regulations mitigate the elimination of the 90-day adjudication deadline in two ways.

First, individuals with existing EADs may apply to renew their work authorization 180 days before expiration.

Second, individuals renewing their EADs in certain employment-eligibility categories will obtain a temporary, 180-day automatic extension of their EADs. This drastically alters the old regulation that required EAD renewal applications to be both timely filed and approved before an individual could continue to lawfully work in the United States. The new regulations automatically extend certain EADs for 180 days if the renewal application is timely filed with the USCIS. This will allow these individuals to continue working while waiting for USCIS to adjudicate their renewal applications.

This 180-day automatic extension for EAD renewal applications will apply to 15 employment eligibility categories. These categories include individuals with pending adjustment of status applications, pending applications for asylum, pending applications for withholding of removal, individuals with pending VAWA applications and TPS extensions, among many others.

Individuals whose EAD renewals are automatically extended for 180 days will receive USCIS Receipt Notices that confirm the 180-day automatic extension of employment authorization.

This temporary automatic extension is good news for both employees and employers because it will prevent many employers from having to terminate employees whose EAD renewal applications are still pending at the time their current EAD expires.

Unfortunately, the automatic 180-day extension does not apply to first-time EAD applicants or to certain dependents of certain nonimmigrants (for example, L-2s, H-4s).

For more information on the new EAD regulations or other immigration-related inquiries, please contact Kolko & Associates, P.C.

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Kolko & Associates is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, German, and Slovak, and we can arrange for translators in any other language.