By law the USCIS must either adjudicate EAD applications within 90 days or issue interim employment authorization. On Friday May 26, 2015, a nationwide class action lawsuit was filed against the USCIS for unlawfully delaying the adjudication of applications for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). The alleges that USCIS’s failed to timely adjudicate applications for EADs and to issue interim employment authorization, in violation of USCIS law.
Various classes of individuals may qualify for an EAD, including: individuals with a pending I-485 (green card) application, students on OPT, and L-2, J-2, and H-4 spouses. While the USCIS has not indicated as such, the volume of EAD applications being received may be causing delays. Due to the recent retrogression of the Philippines EB3 category and the new H4 EAD rule, the USCIS has certainly been receiving a large number of EAD applications.
It is important to note that unlike an H-1B extension, which if filed before the H expiration extends the work authorization while the extension case is pending, an application for an EAD extension must be approved before the current EAD expires to avoid a gap in work authorization. Individuals applying to extend their EADs should apply a minimum of 90 days before the expiration of the EAD card. Individuals must have a valid EAD in hand to be authorized to work in the US.