Effective December 28, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the ability to request expedited processing of Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewal applications for individuals who meet all of the following criteria:
- The applicant is a “healthcare worker”;
- The applicant has a pending EAD renewal application (Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization); and
- The applicant’s EAD has already expired or will expire within 30 days.
Who qualifies as a “healthcare worker”?
USCIS has instructed EAD applicants to review an August 10, 2021 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum to determine if they qualify as a healthcare worker. To view the list of qualifying healthcare worker occupations, click on the link and scroll to pages 7-9 (under the “Healthcare/Public Health” heading).
The list of qualifying healthcare workers in the DHS memorandum is expansive and not limited to occupations such as doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel. For example, qualifying healthcare workers include:
- Dentists, Psychologists, Speech Pathologists, Nutritionists, Occupational Therapists, and practitioners in other medical fields;
- Pharmacists and pharmacy workers;
- Long-term care facility workers;
- Home care workers;
- Individuals who work in medical centers, including sanitation workers, security guards, food service workers, and medical shuttle bus drivers;
- Social workers and mental health counselors;
- Individuals who provide care for older adults, people with disabilities, and others with chronic health conditions, such as by delivering meals or providing personal assistance services;
- Medical researchers or laboratory workers whose work involves COVID-19 or other diseases;
- Workers for telehealth providers;
- Mortuary and funeral home workers; and
How do I request expedited processing of my EAD renewal?
What documents do I need to request expedited processing of my EAD renewal?
USCIS has stated that individuals who seek to request expedited processing of their EAD renewal should be prepared to provide evidence of their profession or current employment as a healthcare worker, and if this evidence is insufficient, then USCIS may not accommodate the expedite request. USCIS has not stated how requestors will be able to prove their healthcare worker status or how USCIS will verify a requestor’s healthcare worker status.
However, at minimum, we would suggest having the following information and documents available when contacting USCIS to request an expedited EAD renewal:
- A copy of your EAD that is expired or will expire within 30 days;
- Your EAD renewal receipt number (listed in the upper right corner of your I-797C receipt notice);
- Your job title and employer name;
- Proof of your current employment or occupation as a healthcare worker, including but not limited to recent paystubs, workplace ID card, current professional/occupational license, etc.
How much faster will be EAD renewal be processed if I request expedited processing?
USCIS has not indicated how much a healthcare worker EAD expedite request will affect the processing time for an EAD renewal. However, we would strongly recommend that qualified individuals utilize the opportunity to request expedited processing of their EAD renewal because of the currently unpredictable and often long processing times for EAD renewals (with average processing times stretching up to 14 months or more, depending on the category and service center) that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lastly, the ability to request expedited processing should provide additional peace of mind to individuals with certain categories of EAD renewals like C(09) [adjustment of status pending] and C(08) [asylum application pending] who qualify for an automatic 180-day EAD extension as long as they filed their EAD renewal before their current EAD expires. To see the complete list of EAD categories that qualify for the automatic 180-day extension, click here.
Written by Joseph Fungsang, an immigration attorney and partner-in-charge of the New York City office of Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC. The above text is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.