Expanded grace period may benefit spouses of H-1B visa recipients, green card and asylum applicants
Amid mounting processing delays, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will allow hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers to continue to use their existing work permits for up to 540 days after they expire.
A temporary final rule that went into effect Wednesday adds an additional 360 days to an existing 180-day extension mechanism available to most, but not all, work permits.
It may benefit spouses of H-1B visa recipients, nearly three fourths of whom come from India, green card and asylum applicants, and those granted Temporary Protected Status.
Read: USCIS may introduce premium processing for H-1B spouses’ work permits (February 28, 2022)
The move comes as the immigration agency seeks to address a backlog of roughly 1.5 million work-permit applications.
The increase in automatic extension period will help avoid gaps in employment for noncitizens with pending Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewal applications and stabilize the continuity of operations for US employers, it said.
“As USCIS works to address pending EAD caseloads, the agency has determined that the current 180-day automatic extension for employment authorization is currently insufficient,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou.
“This temporary rule will provide those noncitizens 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,” she said.
The new rule only applies to those EAD categories currently eligible for an automatic up to 180-day extension with a timely-filed Form I-765 renewal application pending during the 18-month period after its publication.
Beginning Oct 27, 2023, automatic extensions of employment authorization and EAD validity will revert to the up to 180-day period for those eligible applicants who timely file Form I-765 renewal applications, the agency said.
The automatic extension generally will end upon notification of a final decision on the renewal application or the end of the up to 540-day period after the expiration date on EAD, whichever comes earlier.
Certain noncitizens who are in the United States may file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS to request employment authorization and an EAD.
Other noncitizens whose immigration status authorizes them to work in the United States without restrictions may also use Form I-765 to apply for an EAD that shows such authorization, USCIS said.