USCIS announced that it is updating its Policy Manual to increase the maximum validity period to 5 years for initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for certain individuals who are employment-authorized incidental to status (automatically authorized to work) or those who must apply for employment authorization. This applies to EADs issued to noncitizens with pending applications for adjustment of status under INA 245, refugees and asylees, noncitizens paroled as refugees, noncitizens granted withholding of removal, noncitizens with pending applications for asylum or withholding of removal, and noncitizens seeking suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal. 

A full list of the updated maximum validity periods that may be granted for an initial or renewal employment authorization for individuals who are automatically authorized to work (employment authorization incidental to status) or must apply for employment authorization may be found in the Policy Manual.  

For most of our clients, the most relevant change is that EADs issued to workers (and their dependents) who apply for adjustment of status will be issued for 5 years rather than 2. This will greatly simplify employment of these workers as it reduces the frequency with which employment authorization must be reverified as well as the time and effort employees will have to expend in renewing their EADs. 

The guidance reiterates that whether the noncitizen maintains employment authorization remains dependent on their underlying status, circumstances, and EAD filing category. For example, if an individual received an EAD under the (c)(9) category based on a pending adjustment of status application for the maximum validity period of 5 years, and the adjustment application is then denied, their ancillary employment authorization may be terminated before the expiration date facially listed on their EAD. 

This guidance is effective immediately and applies to Form I-765 EAD applications that are pending or are filed on or after September 27, 2023.