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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Democrats Push to Expedite Relief for Immigrant Work Permits (1)

Tens of thousands to lose work permits because of delays Letter urges White House to make extension rule permanent A group of congressional Democrats is urging the Biden administration to fast-track regulations extending employment authorization for thousands of immigrants before their work permits expire later this month. Businesses and their immigrant employees face increasing uncertainty over the future of their work authorization as a host of government-issued permits are set to expire beginning April 24 for immigrants who applied to renew the documents last fall, lawmakers said in a letter released Monday. Those renewal applications are seeing processing times of up to 16 months. “Employers in our states cannot afford to wait until mid-April to know whether their employees will be able to continue working legally,” according to the letter spearheaded by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “These employers need to be able to plan and operate knowing that their workforce will not be disrupted by abrupt changes in work authorization status.” Work permits are typically valid for 180 days after expiration if there’s a renewal application pending at US Citizenship and Immigration Services. But processing backlogs extending beyond that six-month period led the agency in 2022 to issue temporary regulations extending the grace period to a year and a half. Those regulations expired in October—reverting the grace period back to 180 days—yet long wait times have persisted, putting the employment authorization of many immigrants at risk, lawmakers noted. More than 279,000 work permit renewal applications were pending by September 2023, according to the latest figures released by USCIS. A new rule currently pending White House review would again temporarily increase the validity period for work permit renewals. The regulations cleared review at the Office of Management and Budget March 29, according to the agency’s website. In their letter Monday, the lawmakers said the new rule should make the increased extension period permanent or at least leave it in place for three years. Eight Senate Democrats and 60 House Democrats signed the letter along with Warren and Gillibrand. The letter underlined the urgency of immigration advocates’ and local officials’ warnings in recent weeks that the impending lapse in employment authorization for thousands of workers would harm local economies struggling with labor shortages. The looming expiration also jeopardizes immigrants’ access to health insurance, driver’s licenses, and public benefits. President Joe Biden signed a Department of Homeland Security funding bill last month that included $34 million to address work permit processing backlogs—the first time Congress has included a line item for that issue. The administration has already taken some steps to address the issue, like increasing the validity period of certain work permits. But lawmakers said further action is needed immediately. Anar Boldbaatar, an asylum seeker from Mongolia and member of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, said the letter recognizes a looming crisis that threatens his ability to continue working as a truck driver. “I am worried I will lose my job and the ability to provide for myself and my family,” he said. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

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