In an effort to simplify and streamline the process for noncitizens seeking employment authorization in the United States, recent updates to the Policy Manual have extended the maximum validity period for certain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to five years. These changes apply to both initial and renewal EADs and encompass a range of categories, including individuals admitted as refugees, paroled as refugees, and those granted asylum. Additionally, this updated guidance also affects applicants for asylum or withholding of removal, individuals seeking adjustment of status under INA 245, and those undergoing suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal.
Who Benefits from These Changes? These changes are designed to benefit specific groups of noncitizens, making it easier for them to maintain their employment authorization. Here's a breakdown of who benefits:
Refugees, Paroled Refugees, and Asylees: Those admitted as refugees, paroled as refugees, or granted asylum will now have the option to apply for initial and renewal EADs with a maximum validity period of five years.
Applicants for Asylum or Withholding of Removal: Individuals in the process of applying for asylum or withholding of removal will also be eligible for EADs with a five-year validity period.
Adjustment of Status Seekers: Noncitizens applying for adjustment of status under INA 245 will benefit from this extended validity period.
Suspension of Deportation or Cancellation of Removal: Individuals undergoing suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal proceedings are also included in this category.
Understanding Employment Authorization Incident to Status or Circumstance Some noncitizens are automatically authorized to work, a status known as "employment authorized incident to status or circumstance." The updated guidance provides more clarity on this concept and who falls under this category. It also explains that these individuals can present a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, as an acceptable document to employers for employment verification under List C of Form I-9. However, the Form I-94 must be accompanied by identity documentation for employment authorization purposes.
Special Cases: Afghan and Ukrainian Parolees The updated guidance also acknowledges that certain Afghan and Ukrainian parolees are employment authorized incident to their parole status, ensuring they have the right to work during their parole period.
Why These Changes Matter Extending the maximum EAD validity period to five years has a significant impact on the immigration system. It's expected to reduce the number of new Forms I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) submitted for EAD renewals in the coming years. This, in turn, will contribute to the government's ongoing efforts to reduce processing times and backlogs associated with these applications.
Important Note While these changes offer more flexibility for noncitizens seeking employment authorization, it's crucial to remember that maintaining employment authorization still depends on the individual's underlying status, circumstances, and the specific EAD filing category. For instance, if someone initially received an EAD under the (c)(9) category based on a pending adjustment of status application for the maximum validity period of five years, and their adjustment application is later denied, their ancillary employment authorization may be terminated before the expiration date on their EAD.
In conclusion, these updates represent a positive step toward simplifying the employment authorization process for certain noncitizens in the United States. They aim to provide greater stability and ease of access to work authorization for those who need it most, while also reducing administrative burdens on government agencies.