United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increased the automatic extension of work authorization from 180 days to 540 days for certain applicants, effective May 4, 2022. If you have timely filed a Form I-765 application to renew your employment authorization document (EAD), and you were eligible for the 180-day automatic extension, you are now authorized to continue working in the United States for up to an additional 360 days – totaling up to 540 days, or about 18 months – after your document’s expiration date while your renewal application is processed.
EAD Renewal Backlogs
When individuals apply to renew their EAD prior to its expiration date, they have traditionally been eligible for a 180-day automatic extension while they wait for their renewal application to be processed. However, processing times have significantly increased due to operational and staffing challenges at USCIS, which were exacerbated by the pandemic, in addition to a surge in Form I-765 applications. As a result, renewal applicants have seen their work authorization extensions expire, causing them to lose their jobs while harming employers, who must find replacement workers at a time when job openings exceed available workers in many sectors. As a result of these factors, the extension has been temporarily increased to up to 540 days.
Who Is Eligible
The categories of applicants eligible for automatic extensions include those with pending Adjustment of Status applications, spouses of E, H and L visa holders (who have an unexpired Form I-94), applicants for asylum, and individuals with Temporary Protected Status who may also be eligible for certain per-country automatic extensions.
The temporary extension, which is in effect through October 26, 2023, applies to eligible renewal applicants who timely filed their Form I-765 renewal applications as follows:
- If you filed before May 4, 2022, and your 180-day automatic extension has since expired
- If you filed before May 4, 2022, and your 180-day automatic extension has not yet expired; or
- If you file between May 4, 2022 and October 26, 2023
If your 180-day extension expired before May 4, 2022, your employment authorization and/or EAD validity automatically resumed on May 4 and will continue for up to 540 days from the expiration date on your EAD.
After October 26, 2023, the automatic extension period reverts back to 180 days.
Proof of Your Automatic Extension
If you file a Form I-765 renewal application on or after May 4, 2022, USCIS will send you a Form I-797C Notice of Action receipt notice that has information about the automatic extension of up to 540 days. For many individuals who are eligible for the automatic extension, this receipt notice, together with their expired EAD, will serve as acceptable proof that their employment authorization and/or EAD is valid. Certain visa holders will also need to show their unexpired Form I-94; this applies to H-4, E and L-2 dependent spouses, including the E-1S, E-2S, E-3S and L-2S class of admission codes.
If your renewal application was filed before May 4, 2022, you should have received a Form I-797C Notice of Action receipt notice referring to the 180-day extension period. You will not receive a new I-797C receipt notice reflecting the change to 540 days, but this Form I-797C receipt, when coupled with the aforementioned documents as applicable, will still serve as acceptable proof that you are eligible for the automatic extension of up to 540 days.