Great news for H-1B visa holders and those waiting for employment-based green cards! USCIS has added a policy update that outlines eligibility criteria for employment authorization documents (EADs) based on “compelling circumstances.” So, if you’re waiting for your green card and facing delays due to visa backlogs, you might qualify for an EAD. This is a temporary solution to help you out in a tough situation, like losing your job and nonimmigrant status.
To be eligible, you need to meet certain requirements. You must have an approved Form I-140 (“Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers”) and be in valid nonimmigrant status like E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1. You also can’t have filed an adjustment of status application, and your priority date for an immigrant visa should not be current according to the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. You and your dependents will also need to provide biometrics and have a clean record.
The new guidance gives examples of “compelling circumstances” that may qualify you for an EAD. It could be a serious illness or disability that forces you to move for treatment or affects your ability to continue your previous job. You might also be eligible if you’re involved in a dispute with your employer or if there’s substantial harm caused to you or your employer due to job loss. Other factors include having school-age children or a mortgage.
An EAD for compelling circumstances can be renewed every year, but it doesn’t automatically extend. It’s a useful tool to bridge the gap while you navigate other long-term solutions, like finding a new employer or pursuing a different visa option.