July 30th Deadline to Return Certain DACA EADs20 Jul 2015
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is demanding the return of employment authorization documents (EADs) issued to certain foreign nationals enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The EADs in question were inadvertently issued by the USCIS after February 16, 2015, with validity periods of three years. Affected DACA beneficiaries who fail to return their respective EADs by July 30, 2015 are subject to having all of their DACA benefits terminated. This action by the USCIS does not apply to EADs issued to foreign nationals under any program other than DACA.
Court Enjoins Three-Year EAD Issuance
This action by the USCIS stems from an ongoing court battle initiated in December 2014 following President Obama’s expansion of eligibility requirements under the DACA program. On February 16, 2015, a federal judge issued an injunction temporarily halting the expansion of DACA and prohibiting the USCIS from issuing EADs under the existing DACA program with validity periods of longer than two years. Following this court order, however, the USCIS mistakenly issued an additional 2,500 DACA EADs with three-year validity periods. The USCIS is now working to recover these EADs in order to come into compliance with the court order.
Invalid EADs Replaced with Two-Year EADs
The 2,500 three-year EADs issued after the court order are no longer valid, but these DACA recipients remain eligible for two-year EADs. In fact, replacement EADs, with two-year validity periods, already have been issued to the majority of the relevant beneficiaries.
July 30th Deadline to Return Three-Year EADs
Although the three-year EADs are invalid, they still must be returned to the USCIS. Several letters have been sent to the DACA beneficiaries who have failed to return them. And, on July 13th, the USCIS issued notices of intent to terminate deferred action and employment authorization to the remaining DACA beneficiaries who have failed to comply. These beneficiaries have been sent instructions and pre-paid mailing envelopes to return the three-year EADs to the USCIS. The notice also warns, “… all associated EADs (including your recently issued 2-year EAD) will terminate if USCIS has not received your invalid 3-year EAD by July 30, 2015.” These individuals are instructed to “… appear at a USCIS field office location on or before July 21, 2015 …” to either return the three-year EAD or certify that said EAD was mailed back to the USCIS.
Other EADs Not Impacted by Court’s Ruling
The need to collect the 2,500 incorrectly issued EADs is an isolated matter involving only a limited group of DACA beneficiaries. This does not impact those who have filed for or received H-4 EADs, and is not connected to the lawsuit challenging that benefit. Similarly, it does not impact those with EADs obtained based on other eligibility categories, such as a pending I-485.
All DACA beneficiaries who received one of the incorrect EADs should follow the instructions in the USCIS mailings. All other stakeholders should have no reason to view this unusual action as a cause for concern.
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