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Can I Expedite my EAD Application with USCIS?

October 11, 2021
Tahreem Kalam

A Form I-765 employment authorization document or EAD card, is a work permit document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides temporary employment authorization to noncitizens in the United States. Those on various non-immigrant visa statuses, such as H4s, L2s, may be eligible to apply, as well as those with DACA, pending I-485 adjustment of status applications, asylum applications, as well as many other categories of immigrants.

Over the past year and a half, processing times for EADs have increased considerably. In many cases, EAD applications are taking anywhere from 8-15 months to adjudicate for initial applications and renewals of EAD applications. This has greatly increased from the 2-3 months it was previously taking for EAD applications to be adjudicated.

There are very few EAD categories that allow for an individual to continue working for an additional 180 days beyond their EADs expiration, if the EAD extension was timely filed. If the person does not qualify for an automatic extension, their employment will expire as per the date on their EAD card.  This has been causing massive financial disruption to individuals and families as well as employers around the country as many individuals may lose their ability to work until their extension is approved and they receive their EAD card.

USCIS provides an option to request an Expedite review of the pending EAD application. USCIS reviews the requests on a case-by-case basis and will decide whether or not to approve the request and if approved, the expedite requests gets the file in front of an adjudicating officer sooner, but it does not speed up the review process or guarantee an approval.

USCIS may consider an expedite request if it meets one or more of the following criteria or circumstance:

  • Severe financial loss to a company or person requiring urgent action;
  • Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;
  • Nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
  • U.S. government interests (such as urgent cases for federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Labor, DHS, or other public safety or national security interests); or
  • Clear USCIS error.

Expedite request for employment authorization without any evidence of other compelling factor, do not warrant expedited treatment. All expedite requests claiming severe financial loss must be documented to establish the loss and that the requestor is not able to withstand the temporary financial loss that is the natural result of normal processing times.

Expedite request can be requested in the following ways, after a receipt number for your pending I-765 has been issued:

  1. Calling USCIS to place an expedite request.
  2. Chatting online with USCIS’s online chat “Emma.”
  3. Submitting a written expedite request with your initial filing.

Most commonly, expedite requests are based on severe financial loss to person or company. This is an extremely high standard to meet and only a few may be approved. Based on our recent correspondence with USCIS on expedite requests based on financial loss to a person, USCIS has requested proof of eviction notices or utility shut of notices, demonstrating the difficulty in qualifying for an expedite request.  If you have been unsuccessful in obtaining an expedite request, you can continue trying if you circumstance change. Additionally, it is possible to request Congressional Assistance by reaching out to your designated U.S. Senator or U.S. Congressperson’s office.

USCIS is aware of these delays and trying to work through the massive backlog of EAD applications. Some changes they have implemented to try and mitigate these delays:

  • Suspending biometrics requirement for certain I-539 applicants, such as H4 and L2 applicants.
  • Increasing the validity period of EADs based on pending Adjustment of Status applications from 1 year to 2 years.
  • Additional hiring at USCIS.

There are also ongoing lawsuits against USCIS regarding the delays and backlogs on EAD processing times.

The attorneys at MMH understand the frustration and fear that comes with expiring EAD applications and we will work with you on trying to get these approved without interruption to your work authorization. Please contact an attorney at MMH if you believe you may qualify for an EAD expedite request and need assistance on placing an expedite request for your pending EAD application.

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