Articles Posted in Work permits

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If your case remains pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) beyond the posted processing times for your immigration benefit request, you may consider requesting assistance from the Ombudsman’s Office.


What is the USCIS Ombudsman?


The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) helps individuals and employers resolve difficulties they are experiencing with USCIS. The Ombudsman functions independently and is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Before an applicant can request for help from the Ombudsman, they must have contacted USCIS within the last 90 days and given the agency at least 60 days to resolve their problem. If a Congressional representative is already assisting you, the Ombudsman’s office cannot help you.

If USCIS does not resolve the issue (via submission of an e-request, or other communication method) the applicant can prepare and submit a case assistance request with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The most common issues the Ombudsman can assist with are:

  • Cases involving an emergency or a hardship that falls under the USCIS expedite criteria
  • Expedite requests approved by USCIS more than 2 months ago
  • Typographical errors
  • Improper rejections
  • Cases involving U.S. military personnel and their families
  • Aging out of eligibility
  • Undelivered USCIS notices or decisions
  • Transfers to the Department of State for approved petitions

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We are pleased to announce that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will soon publish a new temporary final rule in the federal register aimed at streamlining the processing of renewal applications for Employment Authorization Documents (also known as EADs) and increasing the automatic extension period of EADs.


What does this new rule propose?


The new temporary final rule (TFR) proposes an increase of the automatic extension period of certain employment authorization documents (EADs) from up to 180 days to up to 540 days from the expiration date printed on EADs.


Who will benefit?


This automatic extension will benefit employment-authorized noncitizens to prevent workforce interruption for those that have pending employment authorization renewal applications with USCIS, which were timely and properly filed on or after October 27, 2023.

Additionally, to be eligible for the automatic extension, the EAD renewal application must still be pending with USCIS on the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register on April 8, 2024.

It will also benefit any eligible applicant who files a renewal EAD application during the 540-day period beginning on or after April 8, 2024 (the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register).

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We are excited to report that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that they will begin fast tracking employment authorization documents (EADs) for eligible refugees after being admitted to the United States.

This new process will allow refugees admitted into the United States on or after December 10, 2023, to receive their EADs within just 30 days of entry. Eligible refugees will no longer be required to file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization by mail. Instead, USCIS will automate the process by digitally creating a Form I-765 for arriving refugees and begin adjudicating the application as soon as they are admitted into the country.

This will provide enormous benefits for refugees since they will no longer need to wait several months before they can begin working in the United States, making the process much more seamless.

Under the new system, refugees can expect to receive their EADs in the mail in just one to weeks after the approval of Form I-765.

USCIS will also electronically provide the Social Security Administration with the information required to assign a Social Security number and mail Social Security cards to refugees.

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Great news! The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that eligible beneficiaries of the Uniting for Ukraine program, may apply to renew their parole and employment authorization starting February 27, 2024.


Who is eligible?


Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who were paroled into the United States on or after February 11, 2022, can apply for re-parole under the program. Using its discretion, USCIS can grant parole on a case-by-case basis.

To be eligible for re-parole, applicants must demonstrate the following:

  • You are a Ukrainian citizen or immediate family member who was paroled into the United States on or after February 11, 2022;
  • There are continued urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit for issuance of a new period of parole;
  • You warrant a favorable exercise of discretion;
  • You are physically present in the United States as a parolee;
  • You have complied with the conditions of the initial parole; and
  • You clear biographic and biometric background checks.

What benefits does the program provide?


The Uniting for Ukraine program allows eligible Ukrainians to remain in the United States temporarily and apply for work authorization, due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by Russia’s invasion in 2022. Since these circumstances continue to exist, USCIS will continue to accept requests for re-parole on a case-by-case basis.

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As the new year approaches, we have some unfortunate news to report for certain employment-based applicants who may wish to file their petitions with premium processing service in 2024, including those filing:

  • Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
  • Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, as well as
  • Certain applicants filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and
  • I-539 Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status with USCIS.

On December 28, 2023, USCIS published a final rule in the Federal Register that will increase the filing fee for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, to adjust for inflation.

The final rule states that starting February 26, 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will increase the premium processing fees USCIS charges for all eligible forms and categories to reflect the amount of inflation from June 2021 through June 2023 according to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

Please note that not all petitions are eligible to request premium processing service. Applicants may only request premium processing if USCIS has specifically designated your classification as one that is eligible for premium processing service. To determine whether premium processing is available for your benefit request please review the USCIS webpage.

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It’s a brand-new week full of important updates from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This time for employment authorization documents (EADs).

Recently, USCIS announced that certain applicants who have filed to renew their employment authorization cards (EADs) on Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, may qualify for an automatic extension of their expiring employment authorization and/or employment authorization documents (EADs) while their renewal applications are pending with USCIS.

Beginning October 27, 2023, those who are eligible will receive 180-day automatic extensions of their EADs, including those who have applied for or have received Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or asylum.

Previously, USCIS had passed a regulation that increased the automatic extension period for certain EAD applicants from 180 days to 540 days. This announcement will not impact EADs that were already issued for up to the 540-day period. Those extensions will remain in place. For such individuals, the increased automatic extension will end when they receive a final decision on their renewal application or when the “up to 540-day period” expires (counted from the expiration date of the employment authorization and/or their EAD), whichever comes earlier.

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We are pleased to report that the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a notice in the Federal Register extending Venezuela’s designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an 18-month period.

Those who qualify will be eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that is valid for the duration of the TPS designation.


Who qualifies?


You may be eligible to apply for TPS under Venezuela’s 2023 designation if you continuously resided in the United States on or before July 31, 2023, and have been continuously physically present in the United State on or before October 3, 2023.

However, if you arrived in the United States after July 31, 2023, you are ineligible for TPS.

It is estimated that Venezuela’s redesignation will allow approximately estimated 472,000 additional Venezuelan nationals to file an initial TPS application. Approximately 243,000 current beneficiaries will be allowed to retain their TPS benefits upon their re-registration.

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It’s official. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed that it will be increasing the validity period of work permits also known as Employment Authorization Documents (EADS) to 5 years, for certain categories of noncitizens who are employment authorized incident to their immigration status and those who must apply for employment authorization including:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Noncitizens paroled as Refugees
  • Noncitizens granted Withholding of Removal
  • Noncitizens with pending applications for Asylum or Withholding of Removal
  • Noncitizens with pending applications for Adjustment of Status (green cards) under INA 245
  • Noncitizens seeking Suspension of Deportation or Cancellation of Removal

Additionally, USCIS has released policy guidance clarifying that the Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) may be used as evidence of an alien’s status and employment authorization for certain EAD categories that are employment authorized incident to their immigration status or parole.

These changes can be found in the USCIS Policy Manual, and are also described in USCIS Policy Alert 2023-27 dated September 27, 2023.


What’s changed?


Previously, USCIS policy allowed for a maximum 2-year validity period of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for most categories of immigrants indicated above, and a maximum 1-year validity period for noncitizens paroled as refugees and those seeking suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal.

USCIS is now revising its guidelines to increase the maximum EAD validity period for these categories up to 5 years.

The purpose of increasing the validity period is to reduce the frequency in which noncitizens must file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization to renew their work permits (EADs).

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On September 20, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a fact sheet unveiling new actions to cut down the processing time of work authorizations filed by certain asylum seekers.

Starting October 1, 2023, USCIS will speed up the processing of Form I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization, (also known as EADs) filed by parolees who schedule an inspection appointment through CBP One. Such individuals are eligible to apply for employment authorization immediately.

USCIS aims to decrease average processing times for EADs from 90 days to 30 days for such individuals and will allocate more personnel and resources to accomplish this objective.

Additionally, USCIS seeks to decrease average processing times to just 30 days for EADs filed in connection with the Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan parole programs.

Finally, to improve efficiency, USCIS will also be increasing the maximum validity period of initial and renewal EADs to five years for certain noncitizens, including:

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