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EAD Validity Extended and Other Steps to Clear the Immigration Backlog

We enjoy being able to share good news anytime it happens on the immigration front in the US. And we do have good news! The USCIS has recently issued decisions geared towards helping to alleviate barriers and procedural delays for those seeking or renewing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). In essence, recent decisions strive to make the US immigration process more efficient and fair for everyone involved. The first significant change to the EAD process is that any newly issued EADs will now be valid for two years instead of one. The second important change is that the harsh and unforgiving standards for denying an applicant have softened. Let’s take a deeper look at what this might mean for you.

Prior EAD Validity Period and Denial Directives

In the past, when an EAD was issued, it was valid for only one year. From there, the worker had to reapply to USCIS before the expiration of the original time period to have their work authorization renewed for another year. This went on every year that the worker wished to remain at their job. This cumbersome process created a large backlog of applicants, as workers were constantly having to get their EAD renewed. Then, the backlog was greatly exacerbated by the COVID pandemic as USCIS workers lost months of processing time.

In addition, the Trump administration made things worse. Trump instituted a policy that allowed immigration officials to deny an application for almost any reason — no matter how insignificant or frivolous. This meant that if an applicant made a minor mistake on their application — like missing a single field on the application form or forgetting to include a single supporting document — this insignificant mistake could result in an immediate denial. This created a hardship on the applicants, as eventually, USCIS officers began to reject applicants without giving them a chance to fix even the most minor mistake.

New EAD Validity Period and Denial Resolution

The newly adopted period for any new EADs or renewal EADs, and for certain Adjustment of Status petitioners, is now two years. Now that USCIS officers no longer have to process applications that come in every year, the large backlog of cases now pending should begin to decrease significantly. This happily makes the process more efficient for everyone.

In addition, the Biden administration has reversed the Trump administration’s harsh denial policy. Instead, USCIS officers may now allow applicants the opportunity to correct unintentional omissions and innocent mistakes on their applications. Instead of rejecting an application outright, the USCIS officer will now issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). This gives the applicant the ability to correct any mistakes and provide any missing paperwork instead of having to start the entire process all over again from square one.

Additional Steps to Clear the Backlog

The extended EAD validation periods and more lenient processing guidelines should go a long way towards clearing out the EAD backlog. In addition, USCIS officers will identify applicants who qualify for expedited processing and therefore help the applicant to move through the process even faster. Two of the most prominent categories for expedited processing are:

  • People who are in a medical or other emergency situation; and

  • People who have requested expedited processing through a non-profit organization for social or cultural reasons that benefit the United States.

U.S. embassies and consulates abroad are also making efforts to reduce the backlog of immigration visas. The Department of State has identified four levels of priority that they have instructed these agencies to address in the following order:

  • Level 1: Cases where minors are aging out and immediate relative and inter-country adoption visas;

  • Level 2: Immediate relative visas that cover returning residents and immediate fiancé visas;

  • Level 3: Special Immigrant visas for certain U.S. government employees abroad and family-based immigration visas; and finally

  • Level 4: All other immigration visas.

The government is taking these steps as a way to modernize our immigration system, and to promote and simplify the legal path to citizenship.

Checking Your Status

Unfortunately, past administration policies and the COVID pandemic have created an enormous backlog in the immigration process. If you filed your Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) in a timely manner but have yet to get your renewal authorization, you may qualify for an automatic 180-day extension. The most common categories of workers for whom this is available are the following:

  • Those who have filed an I-485, adjustment pending;

  • Asylees, refugees, and TPS;

  • OPT STEM extensions; and

  • VAWA.

If your EAD renewal is still pending and your renewal date is getting close, you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss the steps you should take to get an automatic extension.

If you would like to check on the status of your EAD application or other immigration paperwork, USCIS has made a tool available to track the status of an immigration application, petition, or request. You simply need the receipt number from when you filed your paperwork.

If you have yet to file your EAD renewal paperwork and are under a tight deadline before it expires, you should know that you can expedite your application by using Form I-907, which is a Request for Premium Processing. This will get you an answer within 15 days. However, please be advised that the additional fee for this service is $2,500.

We Are Here for You!

We at The Jarbath Peña Law Group, applaud the current administration’s efforts to reduce the backlog of EAD and other immigration applicants’ paperwork. These moves serve to make the entire system more efficient and streamlined. What’s more, it creates a more fair system that reduces the burden on workers and other applicants who are seeking to legally immigrate into the United States.

We look forward to helping you with your immigration case, no matter what your needs are. If you need to apply for a new EAD or have an EAD that’s about to expire, we can handle the paperwork to make sure it is completed correctly. This will save you time and aggravation as it will greatly reduce your chance of denial.

Let the Miami immigration lawyers of Jarbath Peña Law Group PA put our know-how and passion to protect immigrants’ rights to work for you. We are your South Florida immigration attorneys located in Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, FL. Contact us today! Set up your free initial consultation by calling 305-615-1005 or by filling out our online contact form. We look forward to serving you!

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