- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced May 3 it would increase the automatic extension period for employment authorization for certain Employment Authorizations Documents to up to 540 days.
- The extension only applies to specific EAD categories, including refugees, asylum seekers and spouses of certain H-1B visa holders, among others. The increase is effective immediately.
- In the announcement, USCIS noted the department has been struggling with a “precarious financial situation” that was further exacerbated by the pandemic, on top of furloughs and a hiring freeze. Applications have also risen in that time, leading to severe case backlogs.
While the extension doesn’t apply to other employment visas — such as the H-1B class — it reflects ongoing struggles employers have faced with U.S. immigration processing.
Such struggles may have depressed H-1B demand, experts told HR Dive in December 2021, despite the importance of H-1B workers to employers’ talent strategies. A combination of “tumult” from the previous administration and the effects of the pandemic, including closures of embassies and other key services, have led to serious delays in processing times.
Some of that tumult included allegations that federal guidance had purposely slowed H-1B processing and increased rejections; a federal judge invalidated that USCIS guidance in a March 202 ruling.
To overcome these issues, some companies have opted to open locations in other countries, though experts also noted it would be unlikely for many companies to follow suit long term. Employers may still want workers in close time zones to ensure collaboration can take place, meaning H-1B visas will still have a place in some employment strategies, one expert previously wrote for HR Dive.