WASHINGTON—The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is extending by up to a year and a half the time that most immigrants who are authorized to work in the U.S. and have recently expired or soon-to-be expiring work permits can continue legally working under those documents, the agency announced today.
The new Biden Administration temporary final rule takes effect tomorrow. The move is expected to help about 87,000 immigrants with expiring or expired work permits, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The extension will help avoid gaps in employment for noncitizens with pending work permit renewal applications and will help their U.S. employers maintain business operations, the agency said.
Eligible work permit holders can file for renewal six months before their documents expire, and most of those permits are still valid for 180 days after their official expiration date. Under the new policy, that window will extend to up to 540 days.
“As USCIS works to address pending EAD caseloads, the agency has determined that the current 180-day automatic extension for employment authorization is currently insufficient,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “This temporary rule will provide those noncitizens otherwise eligible for the automatic extension an opportunity to maintain employment and provide critical support for their families, while avoiding further disruption for U.S. employers.”
The move comes as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is struggling to work through a backlog of 1.5 million work permit applications.
The USCIS in a statement said the temporary final rule, which only applies to Employment Authorization Documents categories currently eligible for an automatic up-to-180-day extension, will temporarily provide up to 360 days of additional automatic extension time (for a total of up to 540 days) to eligible applicants with a timely-filed Form I-765 renewal application pending during the 18-month period after publication of the TFR while USCIS continues to work through pending caseloads that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.