The production and issuance of Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards by USCIS has been significantly delayed due to circumstances involving COVID-19. As a result, on August 19, 2020, USCIS announced that employers may use certain I-797 Approval Notices in lieu of original EAD cards as an acceptable form of employment authorization for I-9 verification purposes. USCIS has confirmed that these I-797 Approval Notices will be sufficient for I-9 verification even though the Notices themselves explicitly state that they may not be accepted as evidence of work authorization.
Who Does This Impact?
This policy only applies to certain I-797 Approval Notices of the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Specifically, only Approval Notices with a Notice Date on or after December 1, 2019 through and including August 20, 2020 will be accepted in lieu of an original EAD card. If an Approval Notice for the Form I-765 was issued before December 1st, 2019 or after August 20th, 2020, then it cannot be utilized for I-9 verification.
In addition, employers must treat the I-797 Approval Notice as a List C document, meaning that it only serves as evidence of work authorization. The employee must provide an acceptable List B document to demonstrate their identity for I-9 verification.
How Long Will This Policy Remain in Effect?
A specific termination date was not provided, however, USCIS has indicated that this policy is only temporary. In the announcement, USCIS clarifies that, by December 1, 2020, employers must reverify employees who originally presented their I-797 Approval Notice as a form of work authorization. These employees will then have to provide additional evidence of work authorization, namely the EAD card.
How Are Envoy Global And Global Immigration Associates (GIA) Responding?
Envoy and GIA are working with clients to determine whether current and future employees can benefit from this policy. Additionally, Envoy and GIA will continue to monitor USCIS delays in the production of EAD cards, given that this policy is temporary.
What Do I Need To Do Next?
If your company has current and/or future employees waiting on the issuance of an EAD card, please contact your GIA attorney for further guidance. Your GIA attorney will confirm whether the current policy can be utilized for I-9 verification.
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Myra Mahmud, who is a Senior Associate at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.