No More Combo Card? The De-Coupling of APs & EADs!

No More Combo Card? The D…

USCIS has recently confirmed that they are intentionally separating the processing of the AP (advance parole) and EAD (employment authorization document). When a foreign national files the adjustment of status application (I-485, also known as a green card application), they can often also apply for the advance parole (travel document) and the employment authorization document (work permit). Historically, when an applicant applied for both benefits concurrently, USCIS would issue one card that was valid for employment and for travel. This is commonly referred to as the EAD/AP combo card.

We and others across the US have noticed the past several weeks that USCIS has been approving the EAD only, rather than the usual combo card including travel authorization as well. USCIS has confirmed that this is a recent policy change. They hope this will allow them to work through an EAD backlog and process EAD applications faster. They have not indicated at this time how long this policy change will remain in effect.

While we applaud USCIS's efforts to process EAD applications in a timely manner, we are concerned that this unannounced change will affect applicants' travel plans. If you are applying for the advance parole and employment authorization document, please keep in mind that the employment authorization document may come before the advance parole. You cannot travel and re-enter the US using just the EAD! The EAD must have the annotation at the bottom of the card that indicates that it is valid for travel, or you must have a separate advance parole approval. You may still be able to leave the US and re-enter using a valid visa, but make sure to confirm your strategy with a qualified immigration attorney before making plans. That may or may not work for your particular situation.

We are hopeful that this new policy will indeed allow USCIS to process EADs faster, and that the processing of APs will not be significantly delayed. For more information about EAD processing delays, please see this recent video.

If you need help navigating the immigration process with confidence, please contact us today to get the process underway! We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email at info@sumnerimmigration.com. We look forward to hearing from you!