EADs Delays: Filing and Follow-Up Suggestions
The U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed in an August 27, 2014 teleconference with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that there are ongoing delays in processing employment authorization document (EAD) applications. Such delays have potentially serious implications for both individuals and employers. The USCIS is trying to remedy this problem, but there are steps foreign nationals may take in the meantime to decrease the likelihood of a delay.
90-Day Processing Time, Approval Needed to Work
The EAD allows for virtually unrestricted employment authorization. Such authorization, however, is only available once the EAD is approved; employment is not authorized simply based upon having a pending EAD request. By regulation, the USCIS is allowed up to 90 days to process EAD applications, but if the process is not completed within this timeframe, no automatic benefits are conferred on the applicant.
Initiate Service Request After 75 Days
Local USCIS offices used to be able to issue temporary, interim EADs for cases that were pending beyond the 90-day limit. Unfortunately, such requests can no longer be accommodated. Instead, the USCIS now allows an EAD applicant to initiate a service request once the person’s EAD application has been pending for at least 75 days. Such a request can be made by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1.800.375.5283, or by using the agency’s e-Request system. The expectation is that, once a service request is made, the USCIS will give the case priority treatment and hopefully issue the EAD within the 90-day timeframe.
File EAD Renewal Application 120 Days Before Expiration Date
The USCIS allows the filing of an EAD renewal request up to 120 days prior to the expiration date of the existing EAD. Renewal applicants are encouraged to apply at or near (but no earlier than) the 120-day mark. Filing so far in advance of the EAD expiration date minimizes the chances of a gap in a person’s employment eligibility.
No Premium Processing and Strict Expedite Criteria
There is no premium processing option for EADs. One may request that the USCIS expedite an EAD application, but only if the case meets the strict expedite criteria. Such a request typically will not be granted simply because of a self-created emergency resulting from failure to file the EAD renewal request far enough in advance.
A delay or gap in employment authorization can have serious consequences for both foreign workers and employers. Applying for an EAD as early as permitted is usually the best way to avoid problems. Those who are experiencing EAD delays may be able to resolve the matter by placing a service request with the USCIS.