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USCIS Provides Guidance on Employment Authorization Documents


Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released updated guidelines for initial and renewal applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) under compelling circumstances, based on existing regulations at 8 CFR 204.5(p).

Key Eligibility Criteria for Initial EADs

To qualify for an initial EAD based on compelling circumstances, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Biometrics
    The applicant and their dependents must provide biometrics as required.
  • Visa Availability
    An immigrant visa must not be available to the principal applicant based on their priority date as per the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin in effect when filing Form I-765.
  • Criminal Record
    The applicant and their dependents must not have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors.
  • Approved Petition
    The principal applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd employment-based preference category.
  • Adjustment of Status
    The principal applicant has not filed an adjustment of status application.
  • Nonimmigrant Status
    The principal applicant must be in valid E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1 nonimmigrant status, or in an authorized grace period when filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
  • Compelling Circumstances
    USCIS must determine, at its discretion, that the principal applicant demonstrates compelling circumstances justifying the issuance of employment authorization.

Compelling Circumstances Examples

The guidance provides examples of what may constitute compelling circumstances, including:

  • Serious illness or disability
  • Employer dispute or retaliation
  • Significant disruption to the employer
  • Other substantial harm to the applicant

Supporting Evidence

Applicants may submit evidence to substantiate their claim of compelling circumstances.

For instance, a principal applicant with an approved immigrant visa petition in an oversubscribed visa category might provide records such as:

  • Mortgage records
  • Long-term lease records
  • School or higher education enrollment

Compelling circumstances may also include scenarios where job loss would force a family to sell their home at a loss, withdraw children from school, and relocate to their home country.

An Overview of the USCIS

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the nation's immigration system. It grants citizenship and oversees immigration benefits. USCIS processes applications for asylum, refugee status, and family reunification. This organization manages lawful permanent residence and verifies employment eligibility.

USCIS enhances security through background checks, detects and prevents fraud, informs applicants about their legal requirements, conducts interviews when making decisions on applications, handles appeals, and resolves customer issues.

USCIS is always adapting and evolving, remaining committed to improving service standards. The group provides resources for education and outreach and periodically updates regulations and policies. The organization responds to emerging needs and adapts its strategies as necessary. These recent updates are an example of its ever-changing nature.

Final Thoughts

These USCIS updated guidelines are for initial and renewal EAD applications. They specify compelling circumstances criteria such as biometrics, non-criminal record, valid nonimmigrant status, approved Form I-140, and lack of visa availability. Compelling circumstances include serious illness, employer disputes, or significant disruption. Supporting evidence is required for claims.

The new USCIS guidelines aim to provide clearer criteria and support for applicants seeking EADs under compelling circumstances, ensuring a structured and fair assessment process.

You can read the policy alert (PDF, 282.22 KB) for a full breakdown of these changes. The following resource, Options for Nonimmigrant Workers Following Termination of Employment, offers more evidence on options for maintaining a period of authorized stay in the United States. Also, visit the Policy Manual Feedback page to provide feedback on this update. Doing so will help the government further clarify changes as they come.

As you can see, the world of EADs is vast and complex. Mathur Law Offices, P.C. is here to help guide you through all the red tape. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or call our office at (888) 867-5191.