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How Long Does It Take For USCIS To Issue An EAD (work Authorization Card)?

How long does it take for USCIS to issue an EAD (work authorization card)?

In the past year, the processing times for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) have become quite long. A recent stakeholder call with the Ombudsman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sheds some light on how bad the situation has become.

When our clients apply for adjustment of status, we simultaneously apply for a temporary EAD. The temporary EAD gives our client the ability to work while the green card case is processed.

Using data collected in November 2017, USCIS reports that there are 625,000 EAD cases backlogged in the system. Of those, approximately half are for applicants with adjustment of status cases. The actual number currently backlogged is probably even higher at this point.

Different EAD applications are getting processed at different speeds. (It is not clear what would govern whether a particular case is processed fast are slow). USCIS reports the following breakdown:

  • Under 75 days – 43%.
  • 76-90 days – 5%.
  • 90-120 days – 10%.
  • 121-160 days – 12%.
  • 160-180 days – 5%.
  • Over 180 days – 24%.

There is thus something of an inverted bell curve. with these processing times. Roughly half of EADs are getting approved within three months, which is roughly the average in recent years. But another quarter of applications are taking at least six months or longer to get approved.

USCIS reports that the online case status for an EAD application should be updated the same day that an approval issues. Once the application is approved, there is a 48-hour hold before USCIS will begin producing the physical EAD card that is shipped to the applicant. Production is finalized within 96 hours. That means that the card should go out to the applicant within 6 business days of when a case is shown as approved via the online case system.

What can you do if your EAD application is taking too long?

USCIS will not accept a case status complaint until an EAD application (Form I-765) has been pending for over 75 days. After that, you can submit a status request by calling USCIS at 1 (800) 375-5283. USCIS reports that they are designing a new website, for release soon, for submitting those requests.

If you have an offer of employment you may also be able to request an emergency authorization at a local USCIS office. Note that this is a discretionary process, meaning that USCIS is not required to grant such requests. To make such a request you would schedule an appointment at your local office via InfoPass. Applicants should bring the receipt notice for their Form I-765 and – if applicable – Form I-485 application.  They should also bring proof that they have a time-sensitive offer of employment that they wish to accept. Again, note that the USCIS officer will have complete discretion as to whether to approve such a request.

 

How long does it take for USCIS to issue an EAD (work authorization card)?
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Sound Immigration

All Sound Immigration attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Associations. They practice immigration law exclusively, focusing on helping families start new lives in the United States.

This Post Has 46 Comments
  1. Hello,
    I found your site very helpful. God bless you bountifully.

    I filled I-485, I-130 and I-765 respectively for my wife and step daughter.
    On June 4TH 2018 we received USCIS receipt notice and few weeks after Biometrics notification which was done as well.

    A week after biometrics was done, we received notice of addition information concerning affidavit of support. This, was also done and sent back to USCIS.
    July 30th 2018, we receive USCIS receipt notice that the affivadit of support was received and that the case has reopen.

    MY QUESTION:
    1. HOW SOON SHOULD WE EXPECT EAD?
    2. HOW SOON SHOULD WE EXPECT INTERVIEW DATE?
    3. IS IT THRUOGH WE WON’T GET EAD BEFORE INTERVIEW? THIS WAS BASE ON INFORMATION SOME OF OUR FRIENDS TOLD US

    Looking forward to hear from you

    1. Hi, Emmanuel. Thanks for the kudos.

      EAD issuance is all over the place. Many are taking upwards of 6 months. But you should get it well before your adjustment interview, which could be as much as 18 months or more (this is a moving target).

  2. I applied for EAD and SSN
    received date : 06/25/2018
    on 10/02/2018 statues updated to card is being produced
    on 10/09/2018 I got approval letter by mail
    how long it usually take to send my EAD card and SSN?

      1. What I know it tooks 90 days to be produced
        And that’s what hppend ..
        And I get the approved letter by mail which menas the days begin to count from 2nd of october..
        Is it take 60 days more to mail it to me ??

  3. Hey uscis recieved my case july/18 my biometric aug29 since then nothing changed and my status just keep saying case was recieved how long i need to wait i field adjustment of status for k1 vusa

  4. Hi,

    My application was received on July 27th. And I applied to expedite my process twice and I got denied. I requested for an expedite by mentioning the customer service agent that I have a job offer and that I could loose my opportunity if it takes much longer than usual. Is it true that expedite denial could push your application back?
    Also, if I must request congressmen should it be of the state I am in or I can use the help of any congressmen?

    1. “Is it true that expedite denial could push your application back?” Not sure what this means but a request for expedited processing should not delay your application. Nor would it if you contact a congressperson.

  5. Thanks for all the information. I have almost hit a roadblock. My EAD card (I-765) was returned to USCIS on July 24. I have since raised 2 service requests to resend the card to my new address. It has been almost more than 3 months since the time my EAD was approved (6/30). I have been calling USCIS customer center almost every other day. I recently had my InfoPass appointment, which did not yield much. I have even raised the ombudsman case assistance request (I don’t have high hopes though). I most recently contacted local congress representative. Honestly, I have tried everything under the sun. I just don’t know what more can I do at this point. I am frustrated with this long unending wait. This when I have a job offer and I need to start in the next 2 weeks.

    1. You’re doing exactly what I would recommend. Not much more to add to the above except that you should push the congressional rep (and switch to your senator if you’re not getting good assistance).

  6. Hi am still waiting on my ead card this is the 10th month. It’s being awaiting deliver scan at the post office since aug 17

  7. I had applied for H4 EAD and I got the approval notice during April 2018.
    I was advised the call center agent to wait for atleast 90 days.Since there was no sign of the card being produced or mailed, I raised a service request.
    However, 30 days have passed after I still dont have my card.
    What should be my next steps?

  8. Hey everybody, my name is Angel!

    I applied for the I-765 and I-485 benefit on may 2018. They received the case on may 25, 2018. They settled up my biometrics appointment on june 18 but i didn’t received the notice because there was a mistake on my address. By july 2018 I fixed everything and I received all the letters including a new biometrics appointment on the 30th of july. I received my approval notice for the EAD card and advance parole YESTERDAY. But When i go to my profile online, the website hasn’t been updated since July, saying this “Notice Was Returned To USCIS Because The Post Office Could Not Deliver It”. Now that i got the approval notice in my hands, how long it’ll take my EAD card to arrive????

    Thank you very much in advance.

  9. Hello, i applied for I-485 Together with Advance Parole and Employment card in California.
    filed: 06/04/18
    biometrics:06/20/18
    processing finger prints for I-485 07/15/18
    case ready to schedule for interview 07/19/18

    Since then i have not heard anything else or received my EAD card. Sould i keep waiting? i know of few people who got theirs with in 90 days.

  10. USCIS received my I-765 application packet on the 7th June, 2018. I had applied with a friend (who’s receipt number was just one number after mine). However he received his EAD (for OPT) card two weeks ago and mine is still in the ‘received’ state, which worries me, assuming the applications are dealt on a first come first serve basis. I also have a job offer which I had to request to push forward twice due to the above scenario. Is it worthwhile to visit the local office and present my situation to move my case forward?

    I’m a student waiting to get the EAD to start my OPT.
    Thank you

    1. No, OPT EADs are handled at the service center. So if you do anything it should be a customer service request with the main 1-800 number. But I wouldn’t read much into the timing of applications filed around yours. All sorts of meaningless happenstance can cause one application to get approved later than one filed on the same day.

  11. Thank you so much for your helpful information!

    My previous EAD card was Expired Jun30-2018 and applied for new one July5-2018. Wth a JOB offer, Can I request local USCIS office a temporary extension stamp while the old EAD card was expired before applying for a new one? my category is (C5)

  12. Hi Sound Immigration Team,
    Allow me to say Thank you very much for your time and effort in answering all our Queries , honestly you guys are doing a great job by helping folks with their immg Questions .
    I have one quick question…
    i have applied for I-765 and 485 on May 18th, and they received it on May 22nd with all Biometrics being cleared.
    its been 4 Months now, i have not heard any updates, any thoughts on this Please… does EAD approval in NBC Center take more time..
    I see my friend already received EAD and GC interview Date.So a bit worried if anything is going on bad with my Luck 🙁
    Please advice

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Lakshman. If you have ideas about other resources we could make available just let me know.

      There are a lot of temporary EADs like yours taking upwards of six months. I wish it wasn’t so, but that’s just the truth of the matter. Nonetheless, if you need the EAD now you can plead your case t the local USCIS office via an infopass appointment and ask for a temporary stamp. Many offices are pretty generous with this, and there’s no harm in asking.

  13. I applied 3/22/18 for adjustment of status, work permit and green card but I have not received any notice of action though the tracking number shows the package was received. It’s now 6 months and I have not heard anything. Have tried to make phone calls to the call center still nothing showing.

    How long does acknowledgement of receiving the application take?

  14. Hi, I applied for EAD on May 2018, and it was approved on August 21, 2018. But the online status is ‘card is being produced’ since then and I still don’t receive my EAD card yet. Any thoughts? Thank you

  15. Hi,

    I applied for green card along with the I-765 form on May 11th in New York after marrying my husband, who is a US citizen. I had my fingerprinting done on June 5th. I currently have an OPT EAD card that was issued on June 4th, and I’m wondering if I can use that EAD card to work since the EAD I applied with my Green Card application is not approved yet (> 90 days has passed). However, I have passed the 90 days of unemployment under OPT. Since my green card application is pending, does the 90 unemployment days apply? Can I work with that EAD card until my new EAD card arrives? I’m confused and unsure because my legal advisor said that since I have an EAD card, I can work no matter what. Please kindly share your opinions and past experiences if they relate to my current situations. Thanks a million!

    – Sam

    1. Hi, Sam. The 90-day rule results in a status violation for your student visa. You need to talk to your lawyer about the implications for that as USCIS is now very aggressive in examining student visa violations in the context of adjustment cases. But under some circumstances, an adjustment applicant (for the spouse of a U.S. citizen) can still get an approval if s/he falls out of status. But you may still use your EAD until the new one tied to your adjustment application comes through (assuming you applied for it).

  16. Hello,
    They received my application on August 13, 2018, can I know, how long does it take to get my EAD? It’s my first time to get it.

  17. Hi,

    What are the best actions besides waiting if EAD application was submitted in Oct 2017 and there is still no answer from USCIS?

    I have a lawyer who’s been following the case closely. We tried InfoPass 3 tikes, 8 inquires and contacted Ombudsman. No clear answer from anyone. The InfoPass person said they are understaffed and the fax we tried to send with expedite didn’t go through 5 times so we sent the physical documents by priority mail to the main office. We got an answe that we didn’t provide evidence because they didn’t receive any documents.

    It’s such a frustrating experience and I do not know what else I can do. All our life plans are on hold because I cannot work or travel. Any thoughts? Thank you! D.

    1. Hi, Dana. This sounds like a really frustrating situation. Do did the InfoPass officers really refuse to issue a stamp even though it’s been almost a year? That would be extremely unusual in my experience.

      The nuclear option in these cases is a mandamus lawsuit. (A mandamus lawsuit basically asks for the court to tell the government to do something it’s required to do). You’ve laid the groundwork for that by repeated requests and the ombudsman complaint. Often, once a mandamus action is filed, the USAG (government attorney) will call up USCIS and basically tell them to get their act together, because no USAG wants to spend time on such cases. Mandamus cases can’t be used to combat normal delay, but could be feasible on the facts you describe.

  18. Hi, I applied for EAD at 16 August 2018 and I got a mail about receive. It says that I will get receive at September 9, does this means that I am going to learn whether or not my EAD approved at that? What is the meaning of receive for EAD? Thank you.

    1. We may not totally be following the question, but the automatic notice that says when action will be taken in your case in no way guarantees when the EAD will actually be issued. Many are taking upwards of 6 months.

  19. I applied for my work permit on th 07/25/18 and my old one is going to explain on 10/18/18 so please what can i do if i don’t receive the new one in?

    1. Hi, Agnes. You can try using InfoPass to set an appointment at your local USCIS office and request a temporary extension stamp while showing proof that your I-765 was filed (ideally the Form I-797 filing receipt). Officers and offices differ substantially on their willingness to do these extension stamps, but it never hurts to ask.

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