EAD & Advance Parole Card Changes
USCIS recently indicated a significant change in policy regarding issuance of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and Advance Parole for green card applicants. “Combination cards” have been issued for many years as part of the green card process and serve as proof of both employment and travel authorization during the applicant’s pending case.
In recent correspondence with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), USCIS indicated it has begun issuing EAD and Advance Parole documents separately rather than in the normal combination card format. USCIS will be prioritizing the issuance of the EAD portion of the filing to help applicants maintain work continuity and reduce the large backlog of EAD applications with USCIS, which in many cases have been pending close to a year or more.
As USCIS has indicated the policy is in effect and our firm can confirm receipt of cards lacking Advance Parole, it is important that applicants check their cards to see if travel is authorized. In many nonimmigrant visa classifications, travel without advance parole can result in denial of a pending green card application. Individuals expecting to receive a combo card could inadvertently travel without noticing this change. Cards are sometimes mailed directly to the applicant, so it is important for individuals to review the document thoroughly before traveling.
Additionally, this policy change leaves many questions: Why is advance parole not being processed quickly with the EAD, particularly for applications already pending close to one year and/or renewals? How long will the separate advance parole document take to process? When will USCIS start issuing combo cards again? The answers to these questions remain largely unanswered by USCIS.
In the interim, if your company has employees needing to travel, they may request a special emergency advance parole document in urgent situations. If you have questions regarding this change in policy or need assistance obtaining travel authorization, please contact Gee & Zhang LLP.