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Opinion

Expedited renewals of work permits for health care workers

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

On Dec. 28, 2021, USCIS posted a notice for health care workers advising that, if eligible, they could have their expiring work permit or Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewed on an expedited basis. The requirements include:

1. The health care worker has a pending EAD renewal application (Form I-765); and

2. Their EAD is expiring within 30 days or less or has already expired.

The USCIS also posted a “DHS advisory,” that lists literally hundreds of jobs that are considered to be health care workers. These include caregivers:

• “Home care workers (e.g. home health care, at-home hospice, home dialysis, home infusion, etc.)

• “Home health workers (e.g., nursing, respiratory therapists, health aides) who need to go into the homes of individuals with chronic, complex conditions and/or disabilities to deliver nursing and/or daily living care.”

Eligible applicants are instructed to contact the USCIS Contact Center and are advised to be “prepared to provide evidence of your employment to receive expedited processing.” In other words, you have to provide proof that you are actually working as a qualified health care worker.

To be clear, this does NOT mean caregivers or other health care workers are entitled to a stand-alone work permit. Typically, to be eligible for an EAD, the person has been petitioned by an employer (or a family member or legitimate asylum claim, etc.), they are eligible and applied for adjustment of status (Form I-485) and had already been issued a work authorization in connection with their pending adjustment, which will soon be expiring or has already expired.

If you have not been petitioned and/or were not eligible to file for adjustment of status or an EAD, then you would not be eligible to “renew” any EAD, much less ask for expedited processing of a renewal.

However, if your work authorization is expiring within 30 days or has already expired, and you are a health care worker who needs to renew that EAD, this benefit could be of great help to maintain your authorization to work. If this applies to you, and you believe you’re eligible, you may want to contact an attorney who can determine your eligibility and perhaps assist in expedited renewal of your EAD.

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