Extended Employment Authorization: Navigating the New 540-Day Automatic Extension Rule for EAD Renewal Applicants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is announcing a temporary final rule (TFR) that amends existing Department of Homeland Security regulations to provide that the automatic extension period applicable to expiring Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for certain EAD renewal applicants who have timely and properly filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, will be increased from up to 180 days to up to 540 days from the expiration date stated on their EADs. This announcement follows improvements that have reduced processing times for EADs significantly over the past year. 

The TFR, which will be effective on April 8, 2024, will help prevent gaps in employment authorization and/or documentation for certain noncitizens with pending EAD renewal applications and stabilize the continuity of operations for U.S. employers.  

Key Changes
This TFR will apply to EAD renewal applicants eligible to receive an automatic extension who timely and properly filed their Form I-765 applications on or after Oct. 27, 2023, if the application is still pending on the date of the publication. The TFR will also apply to EAD renewal applicants eligible to receive an automatic extension who timely and properly file their Form I-765 application during a 540-day period that begins with the rule’s publication. As acceptable proof of the automatic extension of employment authorization and/or EAD validity, eligible renewal applicants can present their qualifying EAD and Form I-797C receipt notice indicating the same employment eligibility category as their underlying EAD. In the case of an EAD based on Temporary Protected Status, the EAD and notice must contain either the A12 (TPS granted) or C19 (TPS applicant) category. 

The automatic extension period will revert to up to 180 days for EAD renewal applications filed after the end of the 540-day filing period established by the rule. 

Background
Based on current processing times for Form I-765 renewal applications, DHS has determined that it is imperative to increase the automatic extension period for certain EAD renewal applicants from up to 180 days to up to 540 days for a temporary period.  DHS is taking these steps to help prevent hundreds of thousands of EAD renewal applicants from experiencing a lapse in employment authorization and/or documentation through no fault of their own.  

This TFR aligns with an ongoing effort at USCIS to support employment authorized individuals’ access to work.  USCIS has reduced EAD processing times overall and streamlined adjudication processing, including: 

  • Reducing by half EAD processing times of individuals with pending green card applications from FY2021 to date, 
  • Processing a record number of EAD applications in the past year, outpacing prior years, 
  • Engaging with communities to educate work-eligible individuals who were not accessing the process and provide on-the-ground intake support of applications, 
  • Reducing processing time for EADs for asylum applicants and certain parolees to less than or equal to 30-day median,
  • Extending EAD validity period for certain categories from 2 years to 5 years, 
  • Streamlining the process for refugee EADs, and 
  • Expanding online filing for EADs to asylum applications and parolees. 

USCIS remains committed to reducing its backlogs and returning to target processing times for EAD renewal applications. 

USCIS link: https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-increases-automatic-extension-of-certain-employment-authorization-documents-to-improve-access