Immigration News Briefs – June 2022

USCIS Increases Automatic Extension Period of Work Permits for Certain Applicants

On May 3rd, USCIS announced a Temporary Final Rule (TFR) that increases the automatic extension period for employment authorization and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), available to certain EAD renewal applicants, to up to 540 days. The increase, which will be effective immediately and will help avoid gaps in employment for noncitizens with pending EAD renewal applications.

The TFR, which only applies to those EAD categories currently eligible for an automatic up to 180-day extension, will temporarily provide up to 360 days of additional automatic extension time (for a total of up to 540 days) to eligible applicants with a timely-filed Form I-765 renewal application pending during the 18-month period after publication of the TFR while USCIS continues to work through pending caseloads that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning Oct. 27, 2023, automatic extensions of employment authorization and EAD validity will revert to the up to 180-day period.

Noncitizens 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 and EAD validity, beginning on May 4, 2022 and lasting up to 540 days from the expiration date of their EAD, such that they may resume employment if they are still within the up to 540-day automatic extension period and are otherwise eligible. Noncitizens with a pending renewal application still covered under the 180-day automatic extension will be granted an additional up to 360-day extension, for a total of up to 540 days past the expiration of the current EAD. Noncitizens with a pending renewal application and valid EAD on May 4, 2022, or who timely file an EAD renewal application before Oct. 27, 2023, will be granted an automatic extension of up to 540 days if their EAD expires before the renewal application is processed.

SEVP Extends March 2020 Covid Guidance for Next Academic Year

On May 2nd, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) extended the guidance issued in March 2020 for the 2022-23 academic year. This guidance allows certain continuing F and M students to enroll in more distance learning (e.g., online classes) than normally allowed. This accommodation was made to assist qualifying foreign national students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

SEVP is allowing universities and colleges to temporarily have continuing F and M students enrolled exclusively in distance-learning (e.g., online classes). This guidance only applies to continuing students who were in valid F-1 or M-1 status as of March 9, 2020.

USCIS Updates Case Processing Data

On May 5th, USCIS announced changes to simplify and improve how the agency communicates case processing time data to the public.

Users can now immediately find the processing time information for their particular type of case, rather than seeing an aggregate of all related case types. Additional changes include:

  • Adding drop-down options for form categories will help narrow results to only the processing times that are relevant to a case and help a user understand their particular situation;
  • Adding a case inquiry tool where the user can insert their receipt date and get an immediate answer on whether they should contact us with questions about their particular case; if so, benefit requestors will be provided a link to submit a case inquiry online;
  • Displaying a single 80th percentile processing time (rather than a range) to simplify the information provided and improve the ability of users to estimate how long it is likely to take USCIS to process a benefit request; and
  • Revising, streamlining, and adding more content to the processing times webpages to increase transparency.

Processing times are meant to be used as a reference point, rather than an absolute measure of how long it will take to process a particular case. Each case is unique, and some cases take longer than others to process, depending on the facts of the particular case.

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