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Delay in Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) & Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Cards

Approximately 50,000 green cards and 75,000 employment authorization documents for approved cases have still not been printed as of July 16, 2020. Reasons for this reportedly vary from COVID-19 related delays, limited financial and personnel resources within USCIS, and current administration policies.

In a statement dated July 21 by the USCIS Ombudsman, the agency states that it expects these backlogs will continue for the foreseeable future and may even increase should there be a furlough of USCIS employees on August 3, 2020.

Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) allow foreign nationals who are temporarily residing in the U.S. to be eligible to work and apply for employment. A lawful permanent resident (LPR) card is also called a green card and it allows non-citizens to lawfully live permanently in the U.S.

Jennifer Behm, Partner at Berardi Immigration Law discusses how this delay may impact foreign nationals. 

  1. How will the printing backlog impact people waiting for their EADs? The EAD printing backlog may impact both foreign nationals waiting to begin new employment, and foreign nationals seeking to extend their current employment authorization. To start new employment, foreign nationals must present a valid EAD card; the card itself needs to be renewed and presented for reverification upon expiration to allow the foreign national to continue working. The backlog in printing these physical cards can lead to work interruptions that can unfairly harm both the employee and the employer. 
  2. How will the printing backlog impact people waiting for their green cards? The backlog in printing green cards means a person may not be able to provide evidence that they are a permanent resident for any employer in the U.S. This could impact their ability to travel and, similar to the EADs, their ability to work. 
  3. Why do physical cards need to be printed? For EADs, the physical card is required because the card must be presented when filling out an I-9 form. LPRs are required by law to carry evidence of their permanent resident status.
  4. Is it possible the government will allow approval notices to suffice? Typically, even though a foreign national has received an approval notice indicating that they are eligible for the documents, it does not take the place of the physical card. It is unlikely the government will shift policy to allow the approval notice to take the place of the physical card, especially in the EAD context. Work authorization is a complex scenario that varies widely depending on the individual case and the basis for applying for the EAD. In some situations, the foreign national’s work authorization may be automatically extended 180 days beyond expiration; in other situations, the authorization to work ends when the card expires.  Working without authorization can have a significant negative impact on an individual’s status in the US and should be closely monitored.  
  5. Is there any course of action those waiting for their EADs or LPR cards can take to speed up the process? In the LPR context, a foreign national may be able to contact USCIS to schedule an appointment at a local USCIS field office to obtain an I-551 stamp in their passport which would serve as temporary evidence of LPR status. The Ombudsman is assisting individuals whose applications have been approved but whose cards have not yet been produced, by sending weekly spreadsheets to USCIS to verify card requests are in line to be processed. If you are experiencing a delay in receiving your secure document, you may submit a request for case assistance with the Ombudsman.

If you have any questions about your EADs or LPR card and how this delay may impact you, please contact us at Berardi Immigration Law today!