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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


Thursday, April 04, 2024

Work Permit Relief Coming for 800,000 Immigrants in New Rule

Tens of thousands at risk of losing legal work status in April Rule extends employment authorization for 540 days Immigrants facing processing delays to renew work permits will get a year and a half of additional employment authorization through new regulations released by US Citizenship and Immigration Services Thursday. The rule set to take effect April 8 will preserve the ability to work legally for about 800,000 immigrants who otherwise faced losing that authorization in the coming months. In recent weeks Democratic lawmakers had joined local elected officials and immigrant advocates in calling for the administration to expedite new regulations offering relief to immigrants at risk of losing legal employment status. Immigrants seeking to renew work permits typically have a six-month grace period after their official expiration date. But a majority of renewal applications are seeing wait times of up to 16 months. USCIS in 2022 issued a temporary rule extending that grace period to 540 days as the agency struggled with massive backlogs for several categories of benefits. Protracted wait times have persisted, however, even after that rule expired in October. The temporary final rule released by USCIS Thursday will again extend the automatic grace period to 540 days. The rule will cover individuals who apply to renew work permits by Sept. 30, 2025, or roughly 18 months after its publication in the Federal Register. USCIS Director Ur Jaddou said the agency has made progress reducing processing times for most work permit categories over the past year, but the agency at the same time has received a record number of applications. The temporary increase of the automatic extension period will help avoid lapses in employment authorization, she said. The rule will also provide the agency a window “to consider long-term solutions by soliciting public comments, and identifying new strategies to ensure those noncitizens eligible for employment authorization can maintain that benefit,” she said in a statement. More than 279,000 renewal applications were pending for more than six months in September, according to the latest update from USCIS. Congressional Democrats warned the Biden administration last month that thousands of immigrants could begin seeing work permits expire beginning April 24. They called for a permanent extension of the automatic renewal period for immigrants’ work permits or—at a minimum—for new regulations to be effective for three years. Although the regulations don’t adopt those recommendations, USCIS projects that the new relief combined with measures such as increasing the validity period to up to five years for many work permits will help to reduce the agency’s workload. The agency has also streamlined the process for refugees to apply for work permits and added online filing options for asylum seekers and parolees. Elected officials have warned that the looming expiration date for many immigrants would harm local economies still struggling with labor shortages. Lapsed work permits would also put more pressure on services to immigrants and jeopardize their access to health insurance and public benefits, they said. President Joe Biden last month signed a Homeland Security funding bill that provided $34 million to tackle work permit processing backlogs—the first time lawmakers included that line item. USCIS has also adopted recent measures to address the backlogs, like increasing the validity period of certain work permits. Helen Muradyan, a doctor and asylum seeker from Armenia, said she was happy to see the new extension of work permits so no immigrants are forced to leave their jobs like she was for two months during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Backlogs have caused a great deal of unnecessary suffering in the past,” Muradyan, a member of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, said in a statement. “I applaud the government for taking action before any more immigrants lose their jobs.” For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

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