USCIS, under it guidelines, is suppose to adjudicate an EAD application for an adjustment applicant within 90 days of filing. If they are unable to do so, the regulations clearly state that an interim EAD is suppose to be made available to the applicant. However, realistically, USCIS has not had a process in place to issue such interim EADs, nor have they actually issued such interim EADs, in many, many years. Unfortunately, USCIS has also confirmed as recently as September of last year, that is still having issues adjudicating EAD applications in a timely manner. So what can you do to potentially avoid being with out work authorization?
I think the first, and best course of action, is to make sure to file your applications for work authorization as quickly and early as you can. For renewal applications, this means you can file up to 120 ahead of the expiration of your current EAD card. We would certainly advise doing so, just to protect yourself.
A second option open is to start a service request if your EAD has been pending for 75 days or more. We would definately urge people to initiate the request ON the 75th day, and to not wait for 90 days to pass. To start a request, you can either call the 1-800 number (1-800-375-5283) or use the e-request system that USCIS has set up for online request submissions. By using one of these systems, you are alerting USCIS to the fact that there is an issue and, hopefully, they can then address it prior to the expiration of 90 days.
Lastly, there is an expedite process that USCIS allows people to use in true emergencies. This is not premium processing, as premium processing is not available for EAD applications. It is a system whereby you file an application for expedite to USCIS stating the facts that give rise to the request and showing that you meet one of the listed reasons for expediting: severe financial loss to the company or person; emergency situation; humanitarian reasons; nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States; Department of Defense or national interest; USCIS error; or compelling interest of the USCIS. USCIS is very strict in applying this criteria and does not readily grant such requests. In addition, we have seen cases where the amount of time it took USCIS to adjudicate the expedite request and to actually expedite the EAD, more time had passed than had they just let the process gone on normally. So generally, if there is a reason to expedite, this should be included up front, and not sent in only as a last resort, as it may not actually end up expediting the process.
Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.