The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun to give priority to pending requests for employment authorization (Form I-765) made by adjustment of status applicants. These applicants are typically referred to as green card applicants. The USCIS did not make an announcement before starting this but later posted an alert stating that in an effort to improve their efficiency and process Form I-765 more quickly for AOS applications that are pending, they may decouple the employment authorization card and the advance parole travel documents. Although, it does not intend to abandon the adjustment process.
This means that the USCIS may be issuing Advance Parole Document (“APD”) travel documents and Employment Authorization Documents (“EAD”) cards separately to those applying for adjustment of status rather than issuing the combination card as they have previously. The USCIS is doing this in an attempt to decrease the processing time for EAD cards and reduce the number of AOS applicants that have large gaps in employment authorization. Many AOS applicants have been forced to stop work due to their nonimmigrant visa employment authorization being expired. When this happens, employers lose important employees, and the applicants are unable to support themselves or their families.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, processing times for EAD card applications are very long for AOS applicants at 9 to 21.5 months to complete. The time varies based on the USCIS Service Center.
AOS applicants are given some benefits while they wait for their applications to be approved. These benefits include APD travel documents and EAD cards which allow the applicant to travel outside of the U.S. and return to the U.S., as well as be authorized to work in the U.S. while their applications are pending. The USCIS previously issued a combination card which gave applicants the benefits of both the EAD card and APD travel documents. However, AOS applicants will now likely receive the documents separately. Applicants will still be able to request a combination card. But, if they do, it could slow down their employment authorization.
AOS applicants will also want to be careful about travel outside of the United States now that the EAD and APD travel documents are issued separately. Learn More
Some AOS applicants may not be able to travel abroad and be allowed to reenter the U.S. unless they have valid APD travel documents. It is a good idea for AOS applicants to consult with legal counsel before leaving the United States to make sure they will be allowed to return to the U.S. and continue their pending application for adjustment of status.
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