Why Do We Need Work and Travel Cards in Adjustment Cases?

Posted on: March 19th, 2015
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USCIS held one of its regular listening sessions today on various employment-based immigration changes under consideration. The session concentrated on green card issues. I was one of the first to ask a question and brought up an issue that’s bothered me for a while.

In adjustment of status applications, would be immigrants are able to obtain interim work authorization (the Employment Authorization Document) and travel permission (Advance Parole). To get work and travel permission, applicants must submit separate applications and have to wait a couple of months.

But is this really necessary? I suggested USCIS look at making employment and travel benefits “incident to status” rather than dependent on issuing a document. There is no real case-by-case review of these applications. I’d venture a guess that the approval rate for each type of application is over 99%.

EADs and APs create a massive workload for USCIS examiners and since there is not a separate application for them anymore, it’s no longer a profit center. Couldn’t USCIS divert the workers handling these applications to other product lines where they’re needed?

My idea is for the receipt for the I-485 adjustment application to serve as documentation of permission to work and travel. This is not so far-fetched. There are examples where a receipt is all that is needed for work. For example, filing an H-1B extension entitles the applicant to an automatic 240 day extension of H-1B status and the receipt is the only thing the worker needs to demonstrate employment authorization.

I think the EAD and AP documents have been around so long, no one even knows why they’re considered necessary. A colleague and I researched the statute and don’t see where USCIS is required to issue separate documents. USCIS regulations call for these benefits to be provided via separate documents. But the White House is looking to issue new regulations where warranted. And I think this is warranted.

I’m interested in your feedback. Am I off my rocker? Am I wrong on the law? Are there good policy arguments for producing these documents that I’m missing?