The value of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for the millions of individuals living in the United States without permanent status cannot be overstated. With a valid EAD comes a social security number, greater work opportunities, and the ability to obtain a driver’s license.  USCIS issues EADs under nearly sixty categories, so when it comes time to renew, it can be difficult to untangle which rules apply to each category. Because of USCIS’s ever-increasing processing times, the most common concerns among renewal applicants are whether the automatic extension applies, what constitutes proof of their continued eligibility to work and renew their driver’s license. 

Generally, the automatic extension applies to renewals under the following categories: (a)(3), (a)(5), (a)(7), (a)(8), (a)(10), (a)(12), (a)(17), (a)(18), (c)(8), (c)(9), (c)(10), (c)(16), (c)(19), (c)(20), (c)(22), (c)(24), (c)(26), and (c)(31). Form I-765 must be properly filed prior to the expiration of the current EAD, and the extension time is counted from the expiration date of the EAD.

On May 4, 2022, USCIS announced that it was temporarily increasing the automatic extension period from 180 days to 540 days. The extension is available to renewal applicants with pending applications if the renewal was filed before May 4, 2022, and the automatic extension has since expired or has yet to expire; and to renewal applicants who file between May 4, 2022 and October 26, 2023. USCIS did not reissue receipts referencing the 540-day extension to those who filed before May 4, 2022. Receipts that refer to the 180-day extension will still meet the regulatory requirements for completing Form I-9. See USCIS’s full announcement here.

Those within the extension period should provide the following items to employers and when renewing a MN driver’s license: expired EAD under one of the eligibility categories listed above; Form I-797C receipt notice, which references either the 180-day or 540-day extension; and, just to be safe, a copy of USCIS’s announcement.

Unfortunately, many people who are legally eligible to work under the extension have faced resistance from current and prospective employers. To aid employers, USCIS created the EAD Automatic Extension Calculator found here. Remember however, that it is the employer’s responsibility to know the law! Employers may be held liable for lost wages as a result of improper suspension or firing.

It is important to note that some common EAD categories that are not automatic-extension-eligible upon timely renewal. They include (a)(19) U-1 nonimmigrant; (a)(20) U-2, U-3, U-4, and U-5 nonimmigrant; (c)(14) deferred action; and (c)(33) Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It is, therefore, imperative for applicants renewing under these categories to renew early and discuss with an experienced attorney whether an additional application for extension of status (Form I-539) is required.

Although the increased automatic extension has provided much-needed relief to countless applicants awaiting EAD approval, it is a specific, temporary remedy for USCIS’s agency-wide processing delays. Wilson Law Group will continue to hold USCIS accountable and push for faster processing times because it is not acceptable to wait years for a work permit.

Important Points Regarding Legal Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards) and Employer Reverification

  • If you presented an unexpired green card when hired, your employer cannot ask for reverification. Doing so may violate antidiscrimination laws.
  • If you change employers, and your green card is expired, you may present the expired green card and Form I-797, Notice of Action (receipt for green card renewal), that indicates the card’s validity has been extended. In this scenario, the employer must reverify at the end of the extension period. Acceptable List A and List C documents for reverification can be found here.
  • Temporary Form I-551 Requires Reverification. If you presented an I-551 stamp in your passport or I-551 printed notation on an immigrant visa when hired, the employer must reverify when the I-551 expires.
  • Many people find themselves in the situation where their green card is lost, and they have no way of providing a List B + List C document to establish identity and employment authorization because their Social Security card remains restricted by language such as: NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT; VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION; OR VALID ONLY FOR WORK WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION. To avoid this situation, we encourage those with permanent resident or asylee status to obtain an unrestricted social security card.