When you go in to USCIS to be interviewed for your I-485 application, it has been the practice for USCIS to take your EAD card at that time. Why did they develop this policy? Really who knows. It makes no sense as you are not yet approved and need the EAD to travel and work. Despite this, USCIS has routinely done these (they say only in cases that they are going to approved, but my experience is that they do this in every case).
Recently the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (the Bar Association for Immigration Lawyers) met with USCIS on this issue and, eventually, USCIS changed their position. They have informed offices that they should return the EAD card to applicants at the end of the meeting. If the office does not, you can ask them to return it based upon the Central Office policy. We are glad that USCIS agreed to this as keeping the EAD card, especially when there are cases where the office may expect to have the case approved quickly, but is unable to get it approved quickly (perhaps the officer leaves and the case is not re-assigned for a couple of weeks or months, perhaps something else comes up). Leaving a person without the EAD leaves them without proof of ability to work or travel, and with less proof of status in this country.
In addition, USCIS informed AILA that an “ADIT stamp may be provided before the arrival of the Permanent Resident Card at the discretion of the field office,” and that “a new LPR will be recognized as employment authorized, based on LPR status, in the e-verify and SAVE systems, should an inquiry be made between the date that a Form I-485 is approved and when the Permanent Resident Card is received.”
These are also welcome changes to current policy. If you have any questions leave a comment below or send me an email. 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.