2.17.17

Effective January 17, new regulations have eased somewhat the issues that many foreign workers have faced with renewing their Employment Authorization Documents, also commonly referred to as “work cards.”

Under the old rules, for most categories of work card, the individual was required to have the actual work card “in hand” in order to be work authorized. Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by regulation was supposed to process work card applications within 90 days, they frequently failed to do so, leaving foreign workers without work authorization for periods of weeks and sometimes months. Moreover, individuals could not file to renew their work cards any earlier than 120 days before the expiration date.

The new regulation permits individuals to apply for an extension up to 180 days before the expiration date. Perhaps the most important feature in the new regulations is the “automatic extension” of work authorization for those who timely file extension applications with the USCIS. For certain categories of work card, the applicant will automatically receive a 180-day extension, so long as the applicant has properly filed for an extension before the current EAD expires. The following are eligible for these automatic extensions:

  1. Aliens admitted as refugees

  2. Aliens granted asylum

  3. Parents or dependent children of aliens granted permanent residence under section 101(a)(27)(I) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act

  4. Aliens admitted as citizens of the Federated State of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, or Palau

  5. Aliens granted withholding of deportation or removal

  6. Aliens granted Temporary Protected Status

  7. Aliens who have properly filled applications for TPS and have been deemed prima facieeligible for TPS and have received an EAD as a "temporary treatment benefit"

  8. Aliens who have properly filed applications for asylum, or withholding of deportation or removal

  9. Aliens who have filed applications for adjustment of status under Section 245(a) of the INA

  10. Aliens who have filed applications for suspension of deportation under Section 244 of the INA, cancellation of removal under section 240A of the INA, or special rule cancellation of removal under section 309(f)(1) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996;

  11. Aliens who have filed applications for creation of a record of lawful admission for permanent residence

  12. Aliens who have properly filed legalization applications pursuant to section 210 of the INA

  13. Aliens who have properly filed legalization applications pursuant to section 245A of the INA

  14. Aliens who have filed applications for adjustment of status pursuant to section 1104 of the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, and

  15. Aliens who are the principal beneficiaries of qualified children of approved self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act.

It is important to note that this new procedure does not apply to spouses of non-immigrants (such as H-4s and L-2s).

Although the new regulations will be helpful to both foreign workers and their employers, we do recommend that employers closely track expiration dates and contact work card holders 180 days before work cards would expire, to remind them to apply for an extension.

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