F-1 Students' Work Authorization Filing Options Now Available Online
On April 12, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new filing policy for certain F-1 students to receive their work cards in light the past year's extensive adjudication delays in issuing receipt notices and the adjudication of I-765 applications. This pertains to F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT), who can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, through an online portal if they are filing under one of these categories:
- (c)(3)(A) – Pre-completion OPT;
- (c)(3)(B) – Post-completion OPT; and
- (c)(3)(C) – 24-month extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.
If an applicant submits Form I-765 online to request employment authorization on or after April 15, 2021, but is eligible for a different employment authorization category, USCIS will deny the application and retain the fee. As USCIS continues to transition to paperless operations, the agency will work to expand online filing for Form I-765 to additional categories.
Online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case anytime from anywhere and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail. To file Form I-765 online, individuals must first create a USCIS online account.
Return of Green Card Holders and Documents to Present, After Long Absence During Pandemic
As of April 9, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a reminder of its current policy, under its Carrier Liaison Program, for airlines to accept the following documents for boarding of lawful permanent residents (LPRs):
- Unexpired valid Permanent Resident Card (PRC).
- Valid and unexpired reentry permit (I-327).
- Expired PRC, provided that it was issued with a 10-year validity.
- Expired PRC containing extension sticker/Form I-797:
- Starting January 2021, the sticker that is currently issued to LPRs to extend the validity of their PRC (placed on the back of the card) has been discontinued.
- The revised I-797 receipt notice, together with an applicant's PRC, will serve as temporary evidence of lawful permanent resident status for 12 months from the expiration date on the front of the card.
- A PRC that contains the extension sticker will remain valid until the expiration date.
- The document must be the original I-797 permit (a copy is not accepted).
- Expired Conditional Resident Card with a two-year validity, provided the applicant also has a notice of action that extends the validity of the card for a specified length of time, generally 18 months.
- Valid and unexpired SB-1 visa (which will need to be obtained before traveling to the United States from the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where the individual is residing).
CBP instructs that the airlines should not be determining admissibility of a traveler outside the parameters of the document requirements, and must check with the appropriate government agency.
Practical Tip: If you know or believe you will be outside the United States for more than a year, you should apply for a reentry permit with USCIS before you leave. An immigration attorney can help you with this. You will need to be physically present in the United States when the application is filed. You will also need to be in the United States for biometrics processing, which is usually scheduled anywhere from several weeks to several months after USCIS receives the application, so plan ahead as much as possible
USCIS Update on I-485 Applications Filed in Fall 2020
USCIS has begun sending invites to certain applicants who filed Form I-485 applications between October 1 and December 31, 2020, to register for permanent residence or to adjust status to resubmit their applications that were wrongfully rejected. USCIS' invitations to resubmit indicate that it rejected those applications where either no response or multiple responses to a question were provided; and that due to processing delays at the two USCIS lockbox facilities handling such applications, USCIS was delayed in issuing a formal rejection notice.
Applicants meeting the below criteria, are eligible to resubmit their I-485 applications to USCIS, which will then be deemed to have been properly filed (i.e., received) on the date the applications were initially received at the lockbox facility:
- An applicant who filed at the lockbox an employment-based I-485 application in EB-1, EB-2 or EB-3 immigrant visa category on a date between October 1 and December 31, 2020, when an immigrant visa was immediately available to the applicant based on the U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin and USCIS policy;
- USCIS erroneously rejected the application solely because no response or multiple responses were provided to Part 2, item numbers 9.a., 9.b., 9.c. or 10 of Form I-485; and
- An immigrant visa is no longer immediately available to the applicant based on the State Department's Visa Bulletin and USCIS policy.
For More Information
If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact any of the attorneys in our Immigration Law Group, any of the attorneys in our Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.
Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.