Five years ago, USCIS routinely took three months to issue employment authorization documents (EADs) and advance parole (AP) travel documents.

Prior to the pandemic, USCIS was taking approximately six months to issue them. Now, USCIS can take nine months or longer to issue these documents. These delays create huge hardships for organizations and individuals.

The best way to handle these delays is to plan ahead. You may file for an extension up to 180 days prior to the expiration of your EAD and AP. Plan to apply for an extension of the interim benefits the full six months before they expire. If applying for the initial EAD or AP, plan that it will be several months before it is issued and budget, accordingly, taking into account current restrictions on international travel.

Requesting Expedited Processing

If the applicant must be fingerprinted, USCIS will not consider an expedite request until after the applicant has been fingerprinted.

Consequently, it is extremely difficult to expedite first-time

USCIS may expedite the issuance of an EAD or AP in limited, specific circumstances:

  • Severe financial loss to a company or person provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the applicant’s failure:
    • to timely file the benefit request;
    • to timely respond to any requests for additional evidence.
  • Emergencies and urgent humanitarian
  • A nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United
  • U.S. government interests (including urgent cases for federal agencies such as DOD, DOL, DHS, or other public safety or national security interests).
  • Clear USCIS interest
  • Healthcare worker with a pending EAD

Will USCIS Grant My Case Expedited Processing?

The reason for the expedite request must be explained in a clear and simple manner, backed up with any available documentation. Even in compelling circumstances with sympathetic parties, USCIS may not expedite a case. Critically, if USCIS perceives that there is a viable alternative for the applicant or that an organization is making too many requests, the agency is less likely to grant the expedite request. Vague requests or requests that show ordinary, predictable outcomes (loss of income), are less likely to be honored.

As a practical matter, USCIS is more likely to honor requests for expedited treatment by school districts or federal government agencies than requests based on severe financial loss or urgent humanitarian reasons. Also, nonprofit organizations that have a clear, easily understood, valuable public mission are more likely to have their requests honored.

Even if USCIS approves the expedited processing, it will take several weeks for the documents to be issued. Consequently, it may take at least a month to get an interim document.

What Can I Do If I Don’t Get Expedited?

Because USCIS has been taking such a long time on processing the EADs, many people now ask for expedites. Many people try to expedite on the severe financial loss category because they cannot work or they would have to be terminated if the EAD is not approved. However, most of these expedite requests just based on this basis are denied because everyone is in the same situation and USCIS is swamped with these requests. If you don’t qualify for an expedite, or if you filed for an expedite and got denied, you may still be able to force USCIS to issue an EAD faster, by suing them for unreasonable delays. Our immigration law firm sued in several successful cases that resulted in the courts compelling action against USCIS.

If you have questions about expediting EADs or APs or suing USCIS for delays, we encourage you to call our office at  770-913-0800.

Source: American Immigration Lawyers Association