The Biden government has declared that certain categories of immigrants, including those looking for green cards and spouses of H-1B visa holders, would be allowed to use their expired work permits for an additional 18 months, offering relief to a huge number of Indians working in this nation and prevent further disruption for US employers.
A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document given to immigrants as proof that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently in the US.
The move declared by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday will go into effect from 4th May 2022.
The expansion period of up to 180 days will automatically be extended to up to 540 days. From the expiration date expressed on the ongoing Employment Authorisation Cards (EADs), the Department of Homeland Security said.
“As USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) works to address the pending EAD caseloads. The agency has determined that the ongoing 180-day automatic extension for employment authorization is currently insufficient,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou.
“This temporary rule will give those non-residents, otherwise eligible for the automatic extension. A chance to maintain employment and provide critical support for their families. While avoiding further disruption for US employers,” he said.
The US announces a 1.5-year extension for expiring work permits
As per USCIS, non-residents with a pending EAD renewal application whose 180-day automatic extension has lapsed. And whose EAD has expired will be granted an additional period of employment authorization. Also, EAD validity starts on 4th May 2022 and lasting up to 540 days from the expiration date of their EAD.
They might resume employment if they are still within the up to 540-day automatic extension period and are otherwise eligible.
Non-residents with a pending renewal application are still covered under the 180-day automatic extension. It will be granted an extra extension of up to 360 days, for a total of up to 540 days past the expiration of the ongoing EAD.
Non-residents with a pending renewal application and a valid EAD on 4th May 2022. Or who timely file an EAD renewal application before 27th October 2023. It will be granted an automatic extension of up to 540 days if its EAD expires before the renewal application is processed.
“The change will immediately help around 87,000 immigrants whose work authorization has lapsed or is set to in the next 30 days. Overall, the government estimates that as many as 4,20,000 immigrants renewing work permits. And it will be protected from losing their ability to work for the duration of the policy”. Indian-American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria told PTI.
USCIS Increases Automatic Extension Period of Work authorization – up to 540 days
The policy is meant to address the unprecedented backlog of 1.5 million work permit applications. At the country’s legal immigration agency, leaving several thousand unable to work legally and exacerbating labor shortages.
Inviting the change of policy, Bhutoria said this is great information for employers. As most organizations are facing staffing issues and will now be able to keep their eligible employees.
“This policy change allows employers to continue their workers and eligible immigrants. To work on expired documents for up to 540 days, rather than 180. That implies even the huge number of individuals past their 180-day window have as much as one more year of work authorization as of Wednesday,” he said.
“This is the right step in the direction to decrease the visa processing backlog,” he said.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
Moreover, the H-1B visa program is the most sought-after work visa among foreign professionals, including Indians.