USCIS Announces EAD and AP Documents Will Now Be Processed Separately

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stated that it will no longer be combining the advance parole (AP) and employment authorization document (EAD). Instead, it will be sending the AP and EAD documents out separately so as to try to improve processing times for EADs. Generally, the EAD and AP are requested in conjunction with Form I-485 which is an Application to Register Permanent Status or Adjust Status. Form I-485 is used by people that are applying for permanent residence status in the US. Whereas the EAD is used for employment authorization, and the AD is used for travel authorization during the time in which a person is waiting for their adjustment-of-status application to be processed.

The processing times for an EAD have grown considerably over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the Nebraska Service Center, as well as the Texas Service Center, have processing times of anywhere from 11 ½ to 13 ½ months for processing EADs. This estimate is obtained from applications for adjustment of status. Officials from the USCIS have stated that they are trying to clear up backlogs in EADs to avoid having foreign nationals who depend on EADs for their employment from becoming temporarily ineligible for work.

Because the EAD and AP documents will no longer be combined, individuals will need to remember that an EAD that doesn’t state that it serves as I-512 Advance Parole can only be used for employment, not for travel. For international travel, it will be necessary to obtain an AP document separately.

With this new process, some individuals applying for Adjustment of Status may have their EAD applications approved first and their Advanced Parole application approved later. This may be a good thing for TN visa applicants applying for Adjustment of Status as it may allow them open market work authorization. Although it may result in delays should they wish to travel outside of the United States. Additionally, if AOS applicants leave the United States without obtaining their Advanced Parole, they will likely be giving up their AOS applications.

It is likely the USCIS will now be issuing separate documents for the EAD and AP rather than a combination card. It is possible that this will allow the agency to more quickly process EAD applications allowing foreign national workers to begin their employment while they are waiting for their Advance Parole. This will be a strong benefit for employers who are dealing with a historic labor shortage as well as the USCIS backlog leaving them few options to find the labor they need.

However, for employers considering hiring foreign national workers to access the talent they need it is important to keep in mind that there are a considerable number of paperwork requirements they must meet. One of these is the Form I-9 which for these workers can become quite complex. The best way to handle this is to incorporate an electronic I-9 management tool into your hiring process. This can guide HR personnel every step of the way and ensure that documents are properly filled out and stored securely for review whenever they are needed.

When it comes to your employees, automation makes eligibility verification quick and simple. Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.