In most cases, employment authorization documents (i.e. work permits) issued by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) are valid for 1 to 2 years. Unfortunately, processing times to renew a work permit often exceed 6 months or longer. While USCIS has taken steps over the past year to reduce the backlog of pending applications for work permits, many applicants still find themselves waiting 6 months or longer for their renewal applications to be processed.
One way that USCIS has dealt with these processing delays is to automatically extend the validity period of an expired work permit. However, to be eligible for this automatic extension applicants must file Form I-765 to renew employment authorization before the current work permit expires. In addition, the renewal application must request employment authorization under the same category as the current work permit. In other works, if an applicant has a work permit based on pending asylum application (category (c)(8) on the on the I-765), she can only benefit from the automatic extension if she files a renewal application under the same category – (c)(8). A full list of the categories of employment authorization eligible for an automatic extension can be found here.
Historically, the automatic extension period for work permits was only 180 days. However, due to processing delays, a temporary rule was put in place that temporarily increased the extension period to 540 days. This temporary expansion of the extension period is set to expire on October 26, 2023, meaning that for any applicant who files an I-765 renewal application after that date, only the normal 180 extension will apply.
Many employers may be unaware of this automatic extension period and might think that once the expiration date on an employment authorization document has passed, the individual is no longer authorized for employment. When an I-765 renewal application is filed, USCIS will issue a “Form I-797C Notice of Action” receipt notice acknowledging that the I-765 has been received and is being processed by the agency. This receipt notice will include information regarding the automatic extension. In this way, for an individual to prove that he is authorized for employment, he can present the original Form I-797C receipt notice, along with the previous employment authorization document. Employers may look to the Handbook for Employers M-274, published by USCIS, for more detailed information on the automatic extension and documenting an employee’s employment authorization extension.
If you have questions regarding your employment authorization document, including whether you may benefit from the automatic extension, contact our office today to speak with an attorney.
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