Renewing Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) has been a significant challenge for applicants, characterized by uncertainty, prolonged processing times, and the added burden of extensive paperwork. Previously USCIS issued EADs for 1- and 2-year increments, requiring applicants to file renewal applications to continue working.
For individuals with a pending I-485 application stuck in a years-long backlog due to retrogressed priority dates, the renewal process can indeed become a substantial hardship.
With immediate effect, USCIS has announced a policy manual update that extends the validity period of EADs to five years. This change applies to both initial and renewal EADs for individuals who have been admitted as refugees, granted asylum, or provided withholding of deportation or removal. It also encompasses those with pending applications for asylum, withholding of removal, or suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal, individuals paroled into the United States as refugees and those filing for adjustment of status.
This update will reduce the number of renewal applications received by USCIS so that they can focus their efforts on clearing the backlogs. While it’s great to see USCIS prioritizing EADs they make no mention of the advance parole/ travel document. USCIS had previously issued a combination card encompassing both EAD and advance parole. However, due to massive backlogs USCIS prioritized EADs and now applicants receive separate paper advance parole. The problem here is that CBP have been taking the original advance parole document and providing travelers with a copy. Even though the advance parole is supposed to be for multiple trips, travelers cannot return with just a copy.
USCIS’s decision to extend the validity period of EADs to five years is a significant step forward in alleviating the challenges faced by applicants. While this policy update addresses a crucial aspect of the immigration system, it is important to note that the issuance of advance parole/travel documents remains unresolved. However, some Attorneys have reported that USCIS is now issuing five-year advance parole documents, both as a combo card with the EAD and also as a separate advance parole document.
If you have questions regrading the above, please reach out to PLG partner Chris Prescott at firstname.lastname@example.org.