EAD and AP Renewal – Clarifications

In late 2011 and early 2012, numerous foreign nationals reached a point in the immigration journey where they became eligible to apply for the employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole (AP). Many of our readers are now filing requests to renew their EADs and APs, an ongoing benefit available in the final stage of one's permanent resident (commonly referred to as the "green card") case. This final stage is the filing of the application for adjustment of status (I-485 form). The renewal process for the EADs and APs is discussed here, and some of the common questions and misunderstandings with the renewal process are addressed.

EADs and APs: What They Are

The employment authorization document (EAD) is, as the name suggests, a document that grants the holder permission to accept employment in the United States. More information on EADs is available in Reminders for the New Year: Part 3 of 4, (02.Feb.2013) and What You Want to Know About the Pending I-485-Based EAD (07.Jan.2011).

Advance parole (AP) is a travel document that allows the holder to return to the United States as a parolee after travel abroad, in order to continue the processing of the I-485. For more information on APs, please refer to Reminders for the New Year: Part 2 of 4 (25.Jan.2013).

EAD & AP Extensions Must Be Filed Separately

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may issue the EAD and AP approvals in a single document or card. This is known as a combination card. However, it is important to note that, while the combination card is only one document, the EAD and AP are separate benefits. This means that, in order to obtain both the authorization to work within the U.S. and the ability to travel and reenter the U.S. from foreign travel, it is necessary to file BOTH (1) an application for the EAD, form I-765 AND (2) an application for the AP, form I-131.

Individuals sometimes, mistakenly, file only the AP or only the EAD renewal when they wish to extend both benefits. This can lead to a number of problems, including a potential lapse of authorization to work for those who rely on the EAD for their employment permission.

Timing for Renewal - 120 Days Before Expiration

Applicants for EAD and AP extensions can request to renew the EAD and/or AP up to 120 days prior to the expiration dates of the EAD and/or AP. Adjudications in these cases can take up to 90 days, and delays are possible. While, as of this writing, EADs and APs are generally processed in fewer than 90 days, it is best not to delay renewal filings. It is important to be mindful of the renewal timing and to track this date carefully.

EADs are only valid for the listed duration. Even if one files the I-765 form before the EAD expiration date, the work authorization does not continue beyond the expiration date, unless the renewal I-765 is approved. It is recommended, therefore, that renewals be filed at the earliest allowable time.

The same concept applies to the AP. One is allowed to travel using AP until the date before the AP expires. In order to travel outside of the United States after expiration of the AP, one must have a renewed AP approved prior to departure. It is essential, therefore, to file the request for renewal in a timely fashion.

The USCIS and the Duration of EADs and APs

The USCIS has authority to issue an EAD with a two-year validity period, if the individual's priority date is not current. This holds true whether or not the EAD application is filed concurrently with an AP application. While the non-current priority date allows the USCIS to grant a two-year EAD, in practice, the USCIS does not always do so. So, even if the priority date is not current, the USCIS may choose to issue an EAD (or EAD/AP combination card) for only one year. While it is understandable that individuals would rather have a two-year EAD/AP validity, the result of a request for two years depends on the USCIS.

EAD/AP Fees for Pre-Jul/Aug 2007 Renewals

Many MurthyDotCom readers are eligible to file the EAD and AP initial and renewal forms without separate filing fees. This is a bit confusing, as it depends upon the filing fee that was paid with the I-485 filing. All applicants who filed the I-485 after August 17, 2007 paid a one-time filing fee and do not have to pay additional USCIS fees for EAD and AP filings.

Online Filings Require Additional Renewal Fees

If any individual files the EAD or AP application online, s/he will be subject to the current filing fee regardless of when the I-485 application was filed. As of this writing, if required, the filing fee for the I-765 form is $380, and the filing fee for the I-131 is $360. Individuals who are not required to pay the filing fees may therefore want to use the paper filing process, rather than filing online.

Conclusion

We at the Murthy Law Firm regularly help our clients with I-485-related benefits, including filing the I-765 and I-131 forms to renew their EADs and APs. It is important to note the expiration dates of EADs and APs and to file well in advance of those dates. Individuals who file 120 days before the expiration of these valuable benefits rarely encounter lapses in their work and travel authorization. The Murthy Law Firm is available to help those seeking advice or assistance in their EAD or AP matters.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.

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