Articles Posted in EAD Renewal

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In this blog post, we close out the week with some important information for Afghani nationals seeking to apply for Temporary Protected Status under the TPS designation for Afghanistan. On Thursday, June 16, 2022, from 2 to 3 pm (ET) USCIS will be hosting a public engagement session discussing the TPS requirements for Afghanistan and answering your questions.


What will be discussed?


On March 16, 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the designation of TPS for Afghanistan for 18 months. This designation of TPS for Afghanistan allows nationals of Afghanistan and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan, who have continuously resided in the U.S. since March 15, 2022, to file initial applications for TPS.

The USCIS public engagement session will provide a general overview of the designation of TPS for Afghanistan and following the information session a question-and-answer session will take place.

While USCIS cannot answer case-specific questions, general questions about eligibility can be asked during the information session.


When will the session take place?


Thursday June 16, 2022, from 2-3 pm ET.


How can you register?


To register visit the registration page here.

  • You will be asked to sign up for updates or to access subscriber preferences, please enter your email address and select “Submit”
  • Select “Subscriber Preferences”
  • Select the “Questions” tab
  • Complete the questions and select “Submit.”

Once your registration is processed, you will receive a confirmation email with the details.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! New developments are underway by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to improve the way the agency is communicating case processing times to members of the public.

The agency recently announced new efforts to streamline information provided on its processing times webpage. For each type of immigration benefit, USCIS releases information regarding how much time it is taking the agency to process that particular application, petition, or request. Previously, processing times were estimated based on how long the agency took to approve or deny a certain percentile of forms or petitions over the prior 6-month period.

Now, USCIS has updated their webpage so that users can find the processing time information for their particular type of case, rather than seeing an aggregate of all related case types. This provides applicants with a more accurate picture of how long their particular type of case is taking to be processed.

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USCIS is about to make it a lot easier for certain noncitizens to remain employment authorized. On May 3, 2022, the agency announced a new Temporary Final Rule (TPR) that automatically extends the period of employment authorization on Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) from 180 days up to 540 total days.

The automatic extension time is counted from the expiration date of the employment authorization and/or EAD. This new regulation became effective as of yesterday, May 4, 2022, and will be in effect until October 15, 2025. Once the regulation reaches its time limit, the automatic extension will revert to 180 days.

USCIS decided to issue this new policy to prevent employment interruptions for noncitizens that have pending EAD renewal applications with the agency (Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization).


Who qualifies for the automatic extension?


The additional extension of up to 540 total days will be available only to renewal applicants who timely file a Form I-765 renewal application with USCIS from the period of May 4, 2022, to October 26, 2023, and who were previously eligible to receive the 180-day automatic extension.

For those who file their Form I-765 renewal application after October 26, 2023, the normal 180-day automatic extension period will apply.


You are eligible for the automatic extension if you:

  • Properly filed Form I-765 for a renewal of their employment authorization and/or EAD before their current EAD expired, and
  • Were otherwise eligible for a renewal, meaning that:
    • Their renewal application is under a category that is eligible for an automatic extension (see the list of categories below); and
    • The Category on their current EAD matches the “Class Requested” listed on their Form I-797C Notice of Action, Receipt Notice. (Note: If you are a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiary or pending applicant, your EAD and this Notice must contain either the A12 or C19 category, but the categories do not need to match each other. In addition, for H-4, E, and L-2 dependent spouses, an unexpired Form I-94 indicating H-4, E, or L-2 nonimmigrant status (including E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S class of admission codes) must accompany Form I-797C when presenting proof of employment authorization to an employer for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, purposes).

Which categories are eligible?


You must be in one of the following employment eligible categories to be eligible to receive an automatic extension of up to 540 days and your renewal application must be timely filed by October 26, 2023:

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In this blog post, we share exciting news in the world of immigration law. On March 29, 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a much-anticipated announcement explaining the actions it will take to reduce the substantial backlog, and new policy changes that will be implemented to cut down processing times significantly.

The agency has outlined 3 main initiatives that will drastically improve processing times at the USCIS level across the board.

  1. USCIS has announced that it will be setting agency-wide backlog reduction goals
  2. Expansion of Premium Processing Service to other types of immigration petitions and
  3. Improving timely access to Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)

Backlog Reduction Initiatives


USCIS will be establishing a new system of “internal cycle time goals,” which are internal metrics that the agency will now be using to help guide the reduction of the current backlog and will determine how long it will take USCIS to process immigration benefits going forward.

The agency will be making certain efforts such as increasing its capacity, implementing technological improvements, and expanding staffing to improve these “cycle times,” so that processing times will be much quicker. USCIS expects these goals to be accomplished by the end of fiscal year 2023.


Cycle times explained


USCIS has stated that publicly, it releases processing times showing the average amount of time it takes the agency to process a particular form – from when the agency received the application until a decision was made on the case.

However, USCIS has said that it also utilizes internal mechanisms to monitor the number of pending cases in the agency’s workload through a metric called “cycle times.” A cycle time measures how many months’ worth of pending cases for a particular form are awaiting a decision.

According to USCIS, cycle times are generally comparable to the agency’s publicly posted median processing times. Cycle times are what the operational divisions of USCIS use to gauge how much progress the agency is, or is not, making on reducing the backlog and overall case processing times.

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USCIS backlogs have become a nightmare for many during the last few years. But now the government is holding the agency accountable for its inadequacies. As part of the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2022, USCIS was required to inform the government regarding how exactly it is planning to ramp up processing of applications in Fiscal Year 2022.

In the Continuing Appropriations Act, Congress has pledged to provide $250 million to USCIS to support application processing. Part of this money must be utilized by the agency to help reduce application processing backlogs at USCIS field offices and service centers nationwide.

For its part, USCIS informed the government that the total number of cases backlogged at the agency as of September 2021 was a whopping 4.4 million cases.

The agency has said that it hopes to focus on backlog reduction for the following types of forms that account for more than half (61%) of its total backlog. These include I-485 adjustment of status applications, I-765 applications for employment authorization, and N-400 applications for citizenship.

USCIS did not provide information regarding reduction of possible backlogs for I-539 change/extension of status applications, which is a big dilemma for those trying to extend their H-4, L-2, and E-2 Dependents visas. These individuals are a high-risk group experiencing employment interruptions as they await the renewal of their nonimmigrant status.

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We have some breaking news for Ukrainian nationals. In a swift and unprecedented move, the Department of Homeland Security, today announced the designation of Ukraine to receive Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an 18-month period.


What is Temporary Protected Status?


Established by the U.S. Congress in 1990, temporary protected status (TPS) is a program that allows migrants whose home countries are considered unsafe, the right to live and work in the United States for a temporary, but extendable, period of time. Though they are not considered lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or U.S. citizens, they are authorized to live in the United States without fear of deportation under temporary protected status. Applicants may also apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS along with their application for TPS.

A country may be designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Ukraine’s designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, from returning to Ukraine safely.


Who can apply?


Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Eligible applicants must be a national of Ukraine or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine.

Any Ukrainian nationals who attempt to travel to the United States after Tuesday, March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for Temporary Protected Status.

Ukraine’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for Temporary Protected Status, and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. In this blog post, we share with you some important updates in the world of immigration. But first, we hope you are having a wonderful holiday spent with friends and loved ones.


What’s New?


USCIS Updates its Guidelines to Increase Validity Period of Employment Authorization Documents for Certain Applicants


Last week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced new updates to its policy changing the maximum validity period granted to certain individuals applying for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), also known as work permits.

Effective February 7, 2021, USCIS has announced that it will generally grant new and renewed EADs valid for a 2-year validity period to applicants in the following categories:

  • Admitted as a refugee (a)(3);
  • Granted asylum (a)(5);
  • Granted withholding of deportation or removal (a)(10); and
  • VAWA self-petitioner (c)(31).

USCIS will also be granting new and renewed EADs up to the end of the parole or deferred action period to applicants in the following categories:

  • Paroled into the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit (c)(11); and
  • Granted deferred action (non-DACA) (c)(14).

This benefit will apply to those in the impacted categories seeking new and renewed EADs issued on or after February 7, 2022. EADs issued on or after this period will reflect the updated 2-year validity period. EADs issued prior to February 7, 2022, will not benefit from the change.


Why the change?


USCIS has said that this validity period extension will help ease processing backlogs because these applicants will no longer need to apply to renew their EADs every year. It will also help prevent interrupts in employment authorization.

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In this blog post, we share great news for E and L dependent spouses!

As we previously reported on our blog, pursuant to a new USCIS policy, E and L nonimmigrant dependent spouses are now considered employment authorized “incident to their status.”

This means that upon admission and issuance of a valid I-94 arrival/departure document showing E or L-2 spousal status, E and L nonimmigrant spouses will automatically be authorized to work without the need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Previously, E or L dependent spouses were required to apply for an EAD by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS.


How does this system work?


Effective January 31, 2022, CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO), in coordination with both USCIS and Department of State, began issuing new classes of admission on the I-94 arrival/departure record for E and L dependent spouses entering the U.S. at a Port of Entry. The new I-94 admission records indicate an “S” designation after the E or L class of admission to indicate that the spouse is authorized to work in the United States. The “S” designation is meant to indicate that the E or L nonimmigrant is a dependent “spouse” of a principal E or L visa holder. Please note that the new designation will not explicitly state that the spouse is “work authorized,” however the “S” designation signals to U.S. employers that the spouse is authorized to work for I-9 employment verification purposes.

Spouses who applied for an extension of their E or L visa status with USCIS, will receive I-94s that carry the new “S” designation at the bottom of their approval notices.


How can I prove that I am authorized to work as an E or L dependent spouse?


If you are an L or E dependent spouse who wishes to work in the United States without having to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you must present an I-94 admission document with the “S” spousal annotation.

CBP has confirmed that the agency has been issuing new I-94’s with the “S” spousal annotation to E and L spouses who gained admission to the United States on or after January 31, 2022.


How does the annotation look?


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E/L Spousal Annotation

The I-94 will be annotated with an “S” next to the E or L-2 status designation, signaling to prospective employers that the individual is authorized to work during the validity period of the I-94. Spouses admitted in E or L-2 status should review their I-94 document immediately upon admission to ensure that it contains the appropriate annotation.


What if I gained admission to the United States prior to January 31, 2022 and I do not have the spousal designation on my I-94?


If you are an E or L dependent spouse who gained admission to the U.S. prior to January 31, 2022, and you do not have the “S” spousal annotation on your I-94, you must contact your closest CBP Deferred Inspection Office to determine whether they may, in their discretion, amend your I-94 arrival/departure record to include the “S” spousal annotation without requiring international travel. CBP may or may not agree to amend your I-94.

In cases where CBP will not amend your I-94 to include the spousal annotation, you may consider discussing with your immigration attorney whether you should depart the United States and re-enter at a U.S. port of entry to secure the new spousal annotated I-94. You must exercise caution before making any international travel plans. An immigration attorney will need to evaluate whether you have the proper documentation to gain re-admission after temporary foreign travel and determine whether your planned travel would result in the issuance of a new annotated I-94. Certain brief international trips may not result in a new I-94 issued by CBP.

Please note that if you are an E or L spouse admitted prior to January 31, 2022, and you have filed an application to extend your L or E status while in the U.S., USCIS is expected to issue the “S” spousal annotation on I-94’s printed at the bottom of USCIS-issued approval notices.

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This week brings positive immigration news indeed. We are happy to report that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has updated its policy guidelines regarding validity periods for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, noncitizens with deferred action, parolees, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners.


What is the new policy all about?


In the new policy alert, USCIS points out that under current guidelines the agency has been issuing initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with a 1-year validity period, to asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, and VAWA self-petitioners.

Furthermore, in at least some cases involving deferred action or parolees, initial and renewal EADs are being issued for an even shorter duration, than that of the underlying deferred action or parole period, forcing applicants to file multiple applications for Employment Authorization to prevent employment gaps to cover their entire period of deferred action or parole.

The government is now recognizing its incredible inefficiency and is changing its policy to align with the Biden administration’s agenda. The USCIS policy manual has now been revised to state that initial and renewal EADs may be issued with a maximum validity period of up to 2 years for asylees and refugees, noncitizens with withholding of deportation or removal, and VAWA self-petitioners. For deferred action and parolee applicants, USCIS will now issue EADs up to the end of the authorized deferred action or parole period for individuals seeking an EAD in these filing categories.

Please note that replacement EADs will not be affected by this policy change.  USCIS will continue to issue replacement EADs with the same validity date as the original EAD.


When is this new policy effective?


The updated policy guidance, contained in Volume 10, Part A of the USCIS Policy Manual, is effective as of today Monday, February 7, 2022.

Accordingly, USCIS will immediately apply the updated validity period guidelines to EADs issued for impacted categories on or after February 7, 2022.

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More immigration news is coming your way. This week important updates have been released for F-1 students seeking post-completion Optional Practical Training in certain STEM-related fields of study.


DHS Issues Advance Copy of STEM Designated Degree Program List for post-completion Optional Practical Training


If you are an international student studying in F-1 visa status in the United States, this update may be of interest to you. Today, January 20, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security released an advance copy of the Federal Notice, “Update to the Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated Degree Program List,” which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, Friday, January 21, 2022.

With this notice, DHS has indicated that the agency will be adding 22 qualifying fields of study to the STEM Designated Degree Program List. This change is significant because DHS relies on the STEM Degree Program List to determine whether an F-1 international student has obtained a degree in a program of study that qualifies as a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree, to seek employment in the United States following graduation.


What is post-completion OPT?


F-1 students that have earned a degree in a qualifying STEM field, are eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completing their studies. Those authorized for post-completion OPT can work part time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.

For those who participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS reduces the amount of time that an individual is eligible to participate in post-completion OPT by deducting from the authorization period. For example, students you participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT, would only be eligible for up to 2 months of post-completion OPT.


Who is impacted by this notice?


This notice impacts qualifying F-1 nonimmigrant students who seek a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT who have earned a degree in a STEM field of study as designated by the STEM list.


What are the 22 qualifying fields of study being added to the STEM list?


  • Bioenergy (03.0210). A program of study that focuses on the environmental and economic impact of using plants and microbes for the production of bio-based fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Includes instruction in biochemical engineering, bioprocessing, bioseparations, conversion, feedstock, economics, environmental sustainability, hydrology, and natural resource management.

  • Forestry, General (03.0501). A program that generally prepares individuals to manage and develop forest areas for economic, recreational, and ecological purposes. Includes instruction in forest related sciences, mapping, statistics, harvesting and production technology, natural resources management and economics, wildlife sciences, administration, and public relations

  • Forest Resources Production and Management (03.0510). A program that focuses on the application of forestry principles to the production, harvesting, and processing of forest resources and that prepares individuals to perform associated technical and managerial functions. Includes instruction in forest production and utilization, industrial forestry, agroforestry, transplantation, timber harvesting, selection and identification of trees, processing technologies and systems, equipment operations and maintenance, and related management skills.

  • Human-Centered Technology Design (11.0105). A program that focuses on incorporating a human perspective into designing, researching, and creating technological interfaces. Includes instruction in design, human-computer interaction, learning, neuroscience, perception, product design, user centered design, and usability.

  • Cloud Computing (11.0902). A program that prepares individuals to design and implement enterprise software systems that rely on distributed computing and service-oriented architecture, including databases, web services, cloud computing, and mobile apps. Includes instruction in data management, distributed and cloud computing, enterprise software architecture, enterprise and cloud security, mobile systems and applications, server administration, and web development.

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