United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers in certain categories will be able to continue legally working for 18 months after the expiration of their work permits. This new Temporary Final Rule will attempt to address the chronic delays that have resulted in struggles for many immigrant workers and help the agency reduce the backlog of nearly 1.5 million applications for work permits.
Millions of immigrant workers in the U.S. depend on employment authorization documents (EADs) in order to work. These include green card holders, asylum recipients, and spouses of H-1-B visa holders, among others. Currently, with severe backlogs, many workers have faced the risk of their work visa renewal failing to arrive in time to avoid disruption.
Previously USCIS policy has been to grant a 180-day extension for workers with expired EADs who file for renewal with Form I-765. Unfortunately, this period of time has failed to be enough to avoid a loss of employment authorization for many workers resulting in a loss of employment and disruption to workplaces suddenly left without the workers they have depended on. According to USCIS Director Ur Jaddou, the current automatic extension period “is clearly insufficient. Now USCIS will grant workers who are eligible for the current 180-day automatic extension an additional 360 days.
According to the agency, this will give it an opportunity to work on addressing the issues which have led to the critical backlog that the agency has been attempting to address. USCIS has said that policies put in place under the previous administration to increase scrutiny of applicants in addition to disruptions in operations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have played a significant role in causing the growing backlog of applications.
With this temporary policy, USCIS hopes to give itself additional time to implement other changes, bring on new staff, and increase efficiency in order to reduce processing times and solve the backlog. This temporary policy gives an 18-month extension before reverting to the previous 180-day extension period on October 26th, 2023. The extension period for workers taking advantage of the policy will end upon the close of the 540-day period or upon a final decision on the worker’s renewal application.
As this change in policy shows, it can be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing employment eligibility regulations. However, one way to help ensure your workplace remains in compliance with the most recent regulations is to invest in an electronic I-9 management system. This will help guide hiring managers through every step of the Form I-9 process and help ensure uniform completion and secure storage of forms and documentation.
Interested in automating your employment eligibility verification? Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.