By Feiya Go
Job hunting is hard enough. Ever go through 18 interviews at a trendy tech company only to be told you weren’t a good fit? How about seeing the application portal that makes you manually enter each experience again, even though you just uploaded your resume? All this warrants a deep breath and a good glass of wine.
But job hunting as an immigrant, that is a whole other level of difficulty. Every immigrant job seeker dreads the question, “Do you have US work authorization?” You may find yourself giving an immigration seminar to the recruiter or hiring manager. You have to convince someone that hiring you won’t be that much more trouble than hiring anyone else. Inevitability, even if you aced your interview and are offered the job, the immigration process requires detailed biographic information, uploading documents, and submitting forms to the USCIS. After long processing times, you finally get that all-important approval. But soon your work authorization expires, you get that email from HR needing updated proof of your work authorization, and the cycle starts all over again.
Today, we bring you two great pieces of news about work authorization to make life just a little easier for immigrant employees.
L2 Visa Holders Automatically Granted Work Authorization
The first improvement relates to work authorization for L2 visa holders. The L2 visa is a status for spouses of L1 visa employers who are transferred by multinational companies. On November 10, 2021, US Department of Homeland Security settled a lawsuit that allowed all L2 visa holders to be granted employment authorization without the need for a separate employment authorization document (EAD).
Before this announcement, an L2 visa holder would be approved for the status but then have to file an I-765 application for permission to work. Only after that application was approved would they be issued an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD) and be allowed to work legally in the United States. Sound easy? Not lately. The wait times for EAD approval stretched to between 8 to 14 months in the last few years.
With this lawsuit settlement, L2 visa holders now have work authorization “incident to status.” This means that L2 visa holders are able to work legally in the United States from day one of their arrival or the approval of their change of status. This policy change will also remove thousands of L2 EAD applications from the USCIS pipeline. This is a win-win situation in our books.
EAD Automatic Extensions up to 540 Days for 18 Categories
The second improvement relates to automatic EAD extensions for 18 categories. The USCIS has different rules for whether an automatic extension is given when the applicant files a renewal before the previous EAD card expires. These rules are based on the underlying reason someone qualifies for an EAD, such as a pending I-485 Adjustment of Status, pending asylum application, H4 spouses with approved I-140 petitions, and other categories.
Previously, certain categories were given an automatic 180-day extension. Currently, as of May 4, 2022, USCIS temporarily increased the extension period for an additional 360 days above the 180, resulting in a total of 540 days for certain types of EADs. You can see a list of EAD categories eligible for this automatic extension at https://www.uscis.gov/eadautoextend.
This temporary increase is available to eligible renewal applicants with pending applications if you filed your Form I-765 renewal application either:
If you file your Form I-765 renewal application after October 26, 2023, the normal 180-day automatic extension period will apply.
This new automatic extension will help reduce the chances of a break in employment for those on EADs. It will also enable the USCIS to focus on producing initial EAD approvals. Our office has already seen the positive effect of this policy for our clients.
We are happy to announce these two updates and look forward to sharing more good immigration news with our readers.
For more information and updates on U.S. immigration news, please visit our website at www.world1law.com.
If you have questions about your immigration situation and would like to schedule a consultation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 425-250-8110. Our team would be happy to meet with you!
Karol Brown is the managing attorney at World One Law Group in Bellevue, Washington. World One specializes in employment and business immigration, family-based immigration, naturalization, as well as asylum, DACA, VAWA, and U-Visa cases.