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A lot of our clients are finding themselves in a frustrating situation. They filed an adjustment of status application (Form I-485) and were issued a 12-month temporary work authorization (EAD). So far, so good, except that the EAD is about to expire and they still haven’t been scheduled for an interview in their adjustment case. What should they do?
This is a relatively new problem. Adjustment applications used to be processed fast enough that an applicant would be scheduled for an interview before her temporary EAD expired. Processing times of about eight months were fairly standard in the Seattle local office, for example. But not anymore.
The Trump administration has instituted a number of policies that have caused many different types of applications to take far longer than they used to. Adjustment applications, for example, now take well over a year at the Seattle office. So a huge number of adjustment applicants are now finding themselves stuck with EADs that are going to expire long before they are scheduled for an adjustment interview.
File a new Form I-765 to renew your temporary EAD.
To renew your temporary EAD you need to file another Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. According to USCIS guidelines, you can file the renewal application up to 180 days (roughly 6 months) before the expiration date of your current EAD.
For someone with a pending Form I-485, you qualify for renewal under the category “(c)(9).” That is the same category that was referenced when you applied for an EAD at the time you filed the Form I-485.
You will need to file your Form I-765 along with a copy of the receipt notice for your Form I-485 (which is issued on Form I-797 Notice of Action). Again, you do not need to include a filing fee due to your eligibility category.
The filing address for your Form I-765 is specific to individuals with pending adjustment applications. Go to this USCIS webpage and scroll down to where you see the information for “If You Have a Pending Adjustment of Status Application.”
Your EAD is automatically extended 180 days after you file the Form I-765.
Because of the serious problem with case backlogs, USCIS adopted a new policy in early 2017. Under this policy, your EAD is automatically extended for 180 days (roughly six months) at the time you file your Form I-765. When you file the Form I-765, you can therefore now use your filing receipt as proof of your work authorization.
Important: the Form I-765 does not authorize you to travel outside the U.S.
When you first applied for adjustment of status you probably filed both a Form I-765 and Form I-131. The Form I-765 is used for work authorization and the Form I-131 is used to request permission to travel outside the U.S. while your adjustment application is under review. When you got your first EAD, it probably came on a “combo card” – it called that because the card showed both your work authorization and also your “advance parole,” which is the permission to travel outside the U.S.
Filing a Form I-765 as described above is the proper procedure for extending your work authorization. But doing so does not automatically extend your permission to leave the U.S. To do that you must file a separate Form I-131 application. The Form I-131 may be filed at a different location as shown on this USCIS webpage. As shown on that page, the filing location depends on your Form I-485 receipt number.
You are not required to renew your travel authorization. But once the travel authorization has expired you cannot leave the U.S. before your Form I-485 is approved. If you do leave, your Form I-485 is considered “abandoned” and will be lost.