USCIS Announces That Certain Ukrainian and Afghan Nationals Are Work Authorized Incident to Parole

November 30, 2022

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Afghan and Ukrainian nationals with certain classes of admission are employment-authorized incident to parole. “Incident to parole” means they do not have to wait for the USCIS’s approval before working in the US. The classes that apply include:

  • Employees with an unexpired Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) that contains a class of admission of OAR or UHP;
  • Employees with an unexpired Form I-94 with a class of admission of DT issued between February 24, 2022, and September 30, 2023, showing Ukraine as the country of citizenship on it.

This admission will allow these parolees to work without waiting for the USCIS to approve their applications for a work permit to start working. However, employees must present one of the following documents within 90 days of being hired or re-verified when the employment authorization expires:

  • An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that has not expired, or
  • An unrestricted Social Security card and a List B identity document from the Form I-9 List of Acceptable Documents.

The USCIS stated that it would give Ukrainian and Afghan parolees the same employment authorization benefits as it typically provides refugees. In addition, it will give an initial or replacement of an initial EAD without paying a fee, as the agency would provide refugees.

The USCIS made this announcement after several Ukrainians who fled their invaded country for the US sued it. The Ukrainians sued the USCIS after having to apply for and pay for work permits. According to the Ukraine Refugee Act, they were eligible for refugee benefits.

The plaintiffs requested that the court certify the suit as a class action representing Ukrainian parolees who came or will come to the country from February 24, 2022, through September 30, 2023. The plaintiffs also asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to speed up their work authorizations. The USCIS informed the court of their policy change but did not respond to the request for an injunction.

One of the individuals who helped lead the team representing the Ukrainians said he was pleased with the USCIS’s change in policy. However, his clients want the court to force the USCIS to repay the Ukrainians who already paid the application fee for the work permit. If they do not, they want the litigation to go forward. Furthermore, he and his team plan to revise the case to include Afghans, whom congress made eligible for refugee benefits through a measure passed in September 2021.

This updated policy is great news for those waiting for work and employers suffering from labor shortages. However, employers must still complete Form I-9; as this change shows, the rules and regulations for work authorization can change frequently. The best way to ensure you are up-to-date with any laws concerning Form I-9 is to invest in an electronic I-9 management system. This system will guide you through the process step-by-step. It will also ensure completed and safely stored forms.

Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9 Compliance.