The Biden government has officially confirmed that certain categories of immigrants, including those seeking green cards and spouses of H-1B visa holders who obtain employment authorization cards (EAD), will have their expired work permits automatically extended for a year and a half.
The move, announced on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security, is expected to benefit thousands of Indian immigrants. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the extension period of up to 180 days will be automatically extended to 540 days from the expiration date stated on the current EADs.
“As USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) works to address the pending EAD caseloads, the agency has determined that the current 180-day automatic extension for employment authorisation is currently insufficient,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou.
“This temporary rule will provide those non-citizens, otherwise eligible for the automatic extension, an opportunity to maintain employment and provide critical support for their families, while avoiding further disruption for US employers,” he said.
Noncitizens with a pending EAD renewal application whose 180-day automatic extension has expired and whose EAD has expired will be granted an additional period of employment authorization and EAD validity beginning May 4, 2022, and lasting up to 540 days from the expiration date of their EAD, according to USCIS. They may return to work if they are still within the automatic extension period of up to 540 days and are otherwise eligible.
Non-citizens who have a pending renewal application that is still covered by the 180-day automatic extension will be granted an additional extension of up to 360 days, for a total of 540 days beyond the expiration of the current EAD. Noncitizens who have a pending renewal application and a valid EAD on May 4, 2022, or who timely file an EAD renewal application before October 27, 2023, will be granted an automatic renewal of up to 540 days if their EAD expires before their renewal application is processed.
“The change will immediately help about 87,000 immigrants whose work authorisation has lapsed or is set to in the next 30 days. Overall, the government estimates that as many as 4,20,000 immigrants renewing work permits will be protected from losing their ability to work for the duration of the policy,” Indian-American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria told PTI.
The policy is intended to address the nation’s legal immigration agency’s unprecedented backlog of 1.5 million work permit applications, which has left tens of thousands unable to work legally and exacerbates labor shortages. Bhutoria, who welcomed the policy change, stated that it is great news for employers because most businesses are experiencing staffing issues and will now be able to retain their eligible employees.
“This policy change allows employers to continue their workers and eligible immigrants to work on expired documents for up to 540 days, rather than 180. That means even the tens of thousands of people past their 180-day window have as much as another year of work authorisation as of Wednesday,” he said.
“This is the right step in the direction to reduce the visa processing backlog,” he said.
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