For foreign nationals navigating our immigration system, one of the greatest sources of anxiety is the expiration of work authorization in light of USCIS’s interminable processing delays, which have only increased during the present administration. Due to the sheer mass of information out there, some of which is outdated, the rules can not only be buried but also inscrutable. Fortunately, USCIS has released some guidance this year that clarifies which categories of work permits are eligible for automatic 180 day extensions while their renewals remain pending. The purpose of the policy is to prevent gaps in employment for those who have filed timely renewal applications before the expiration of their current employment authorization documents (“EADs”). The extension applies to I-765 renewal applications pending as of, and those filed on or after January 17, 2017. Eligible categories include the following:
(a)(7) N-8 or N-9
(a)(8) Citizen of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau
(a)(10) Withholding of Deportation or Removal Granted
(a)(12) Temporary Protected Status Granted
(c)(8) Asylum Application Pending
(c)(9) Pending Adjustment of status under Section 245
(c)(10) Suspension of Deportation Applicants Cancellation of Removal Applicants Special Rule Cancellation of Removal Applicants under NACARA
(c)(16) Creation of Record (Adjustment Based on Continuous Residence Since 1/1/72)
(c)(19) Pending initial application for TPS where USCIS determines applicant is prima facie eligible and can receive an EAD as a “temporary treatment benefit.”
(c)(20) Section 210 Legalization (pending I-700)
(c)(22) Section 245A Legalization (pending I-687)
(c)(24) LIFE Legalization
(c)(31) VAWA Self Petitioners
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders should be aware of the latest developments, however. Just last week, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke announced that TPS for Nicaragua would be terminated by January 5, 2019. Additionally, the fate of TPS for Honduras is still under review, but as a provisional measure, TPS will be extended for that country for an additional six months, pushing the expiration date to July 5, 2018.
Furthermore, in order to benefit from the automatic extension, one must of course file the I-765 renewal application properly before one’s current work permit expires. If the application is rejected or filed after the work permit has already expired, work authorization will cease. This is obviously critical to understand because unauthorized employment can have a detrimental impact on associated or future applications, such as adjustment of status. In some cases, working without permission may render a person ineligible to change, extend, or adjust status.
The above is general information only and not to be relied upon as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship nor should it be relied upon as advice in lieu of consultation with an attorney.