Over the past two weeks, I’ve had a few clients email me to ask why their work cards (Employment Authorization Documents or “EAD”s) don’t include advance parole. That’s a very good question!

Traditionally, when we are able to file a work card application and advance parole (travel permission) application, USCIS will decide the two cases at once and the work card will have a sentence printed on it that says “serves as I-512 Advance Parole.” With one card, people could show their eligibility to work and they could use it for international travel.

However, without notice, USCIS changed their process. Work cards that generally would have also served as advance parole, are now being issued and say “not valid for reentry to the U.S.” This does not mean that the advance parole application has been denied. It seems that the advance parole case will be adjudicated later and a separate document will be produced and mailed to the applicant. Yes – twice the paperwork.

There are a few reasons for this change. USCIS has recently told the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that they have separated the two case types, hoping that this will allow adjudicators to more quickly process work card applications. The backlog right now is beyond awful, as we just talked about in our last blog post. This sounds like USCIS trying to do the right thing. But, there’s also some legal reasons for this change. USCIS just announced that certain work cards will be valid for two years instead of just one year – again, as a way to help reduce the backlogs. However, advance parole can generally only be granted for one year at a time – USCIS can’t approve advance parole for two years.  This is likely the reason why work cards and advance parole approvals are being separated.

I don’t know what this will mean for advance parole applications. They could become even more backlogged than they are right now. However, for most our our clients (though certainly not all) the need to work is greater than the need to travel. I am grateful for creative problem solving at USCIS, but I wish they would have told us so we didn’t have people panicked about their advance parole cases!