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By Felicia J. Persaud

News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE. FL, Thurs. April 18, 2024: The Department of Homeland Security, (DHS), has initiated a pivotal rule change to safeguard the work permits of thousands of immigrants facing expiration risks.

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This significant adjustment follows extensive advocacy efforts led by New York Caribbean-born Congressman, Adriano Espaillat and Senator Elizabeth Warren, backed by 70 Members of Congress, and months of concerted lobbying efforts to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS), last October.

The latest temporary rule from USCIS extends the current 180-day automatic extension period for immigrants’ work permits (EADs) to an extensive 540 days. The temporary final rule will also apply to eligible EAD renewal applicants who timely and properly file their Form I-765 application during a 540-day period that begins with the rule’s publication in the Federal Register.

This extension grants USCIS ample time to process immigrants’ work permit renewal applications, thereby ensuring stability for American businesses amidst nationwide labor shortages and shielding immigrants from involuntary job loss due to USCIS’s often protracted application processing times.

The temporary measure will prevent already work-authorized non-citizens from having their employment authorization and documentation lapse while waiting for USCIS to adjudicate their pending EAD renewal applications and better ensure continuity of operations for U.S. employers. This is the latest step by the Biden-Harris Administration to get work-authorized individuals into the workforce, supporting the economies where they live.

“Over the last year, the USCIS workforce reduced processing times for most EAD categories, supporting an overall goal to improve work access to eligible individuals.  However, we also received a record number of employment authorization applications, impacting our renewal mechanisms,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “Temporarily lengthening the existing automatic extension up to 540 days will avoid lapses in employment authorizations. At the same time, this rule provides DHS with an additional window to consider long-term solutions by soliciting public comments, and identifying new strategies to ensure those noncitizens eligible for employment authorization can maintain that benefit.”

By extending the validity period of certain EAD categories and streamlining adjudication processes, USCIS aims to provide greater stability and certainty to individuals seeking employment authorization. This temporary measure, applicable to eligible applicants who have filed EAD renewal applications since October 27, 2023, will mitigate potential disruptions in employment authorization for nearly 800,000 renewal applicants, spanning various categories including asylees, Temporary Protected Status, (TPS) beneficiaries, and green card applicants.

Furthermore, approximately 60,000 to 80,000 employers stand to benefit from this extension, averting potential disruptions to their operations. USCIS invites public feedback to inform future regulatory actions, underscoring the agency’s commitment to transparency and responsiveness.

This development marks a significant milestone in USCIS’s ongoing efforts to support workforce integration and streamline processes, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and dynamic economy.

Congressman Espaillat hailed the development as a significant victory for working immigrants and their families nationwide. He emphasized the crucial role immigrants play in the nation’s workforce and expressed relief that their work permits, jobs, and livelihoods will no longer be jeopardized solely due to processing delays.

For further details, visit uscis.gov.

Felicia J. Persaud is the publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com, a daily news outlet focusing on Black immigrant issues.

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