On November 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published regulations concerning several employment-based immigration areas. Known as the “Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers” regulations, they will go into effect on January 17, 2017.
The regs contained two significant developments for non-citizens in the United States whose right to work depends on first receiving from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a work permit, officially known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). (See Filling Out Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization for more information.)
Changes include elimination of the mandatory, 90-day period for USCIS to make a decision on EAD applications and the addition of an automatic, 180-day extension period for EAD renewals.
The 90-day provision up to now has served as a means for EAD applicants to force USCIS to issue their EADs in a timely fashion. USCIS acknowledged that it often cannot meet the 90-day mandate and accordingly is implementing the 180-day extension rule to allow someone who is working on an EAD and renewing the EAD in the same category, for example an E, H or L visa spouse, to continue working for up to 180 days beyond the existing EAD’s expiration date.