The USCIS has taken steps to bring relief to the healthcare industry, which is struggling to maintain a minimum level of staff. Due to the immense backlog, the USCIS is facing, they have announced they will begin expediting certain categories of visa employment authorization document holders. Among these, the agency announced it would expedite EAD processing for workers in the healthcare industry employed within the US.
This new decision will bring some immediate relief to several employees dealing with the immense backlog of requests that have provoked multiple lawsuits in recent years. However, many have criticized the measure as only partially addressing this individual issue while failing to deal with the greater issue the agency is facing.
The USCIS has specifically announced for healthcare workers that:
“Effective immediately, if you are a healthcare worker who has a pending Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewal application and your EAD expires in 30 days or less or has already expired, you can request expedited processing of your EAD application.”
This does mean that the expedited treatment will be limited to those with a pending request for EAD renewals, those with an expired EAD or those whose EAD will expire within 30 days. Though, this is a major change for EAD holders within the healthcare industry, particularly given that many still have criticized the agency for the measure.
These criticisms include those questioning why the USCIS is creating new categories and subcategories for expedited treatment instead of simply granting automatic extensions for all EADs. Others have questioned the classification of healthcare workers, which have left many wondering whether or not they qualify as a healthcare worker or not. However, for those considering whether or not they may qualify for this category, it is important to keep in mind that an advisory memorandum published by the DHS has provided a detailed list of critical infrastructure workers. These healthcare providers include:
This policy will also include workers, such as laboratory workers and others that perform critical activities, including research, development, and testing. For employers within the healthcare industry, this development will avoid the loss of workers with expiring EADs that may have otherwise been lost.
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