Single Card for Employment and Travel of Adjustment Applicants

The USCIS announced recently that it will issue employment and travel authorization to adjustment of status applicants on a single card. Previously, only the employment authorization document (EAD) was issued in the form of a plastic card and the advance parole document was an actual paper document. A single EAD card with advance parole endorsement is more durable, secure and convenient.

According to a Policy Memorandum dated December 21, 2010, the USCIS found that it is cost-effective to adjudicate Forms I-765 and I-131 simultaneously and issue a single document if both benefits are granted. The USCIS makes separate adjudications of applications for these ancillary benefits, although the information required from the applicant and the processes followed by the adjudicator are similar.

Approximately 15% of EAD applicants with pending adjustment applications file a Form 131 concurrently with or shortly after filing the I-485, and approximately 93% of those applications are approved.

Also referred to as Form I-766, this new dual-purpose card is available to eligible individuals with pending family- or employment-based I-485 applications who have concurrently filed an application for employment authorization (I-765) and an application for travel document (I-131). Separate EAD and advance parole documents will continue to be issued if only one ancillary benefit is requested, or if they were concurrently filed but the I-131 is denied.

For adjustment applications filed under the new fee structure (on or after July 30, 2007 for family-based cases, and on or after August 18, 2007 for employment-based cases) there are no separate fees for Form I-765 and I-131,and the applicant need only pay the I-485 fee of $1,070 fee, inclusive of the biometrics fee.

On the other hand, if the adjustment application was filed under the old fee structure, the card will cost $740 which is equal to the combined costs for Forms I-131 and I-765.

An advance parole document enables an adjustment of status applicant to travel abroad and re-enter the United States. Without advance parole, an alien who leaves the U.S. is considered to have abandoned his/her adjustment application. The alien will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. without first obtaining some kind of visa, but in such a case the adjustment application will be considered abandoned except in the case of holders of certain types of visas, such as H and L visas.

The alien must request parole at the port of entry by presenting the advance parole document. The determination to grant parole is also made at the port of entry. Once in, the alien is considered a parolee and not someone who has been “admitted” for immigration purposes.

Advance parole does not cure inadmissibility due to unlawful presence accrued prior to the filing of the adjustment application. Therefore, individuals who are subject to the 3 or 10-year bar should carefully consider whether they need to file Form I-131.

The new dual purpose card looks similar to the current EAD but has the endorsement “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole”. The USCIS may issue a card validity of one or two years depending on the availability of immigrant visas, but it may in its discretion issue the card for a longer or shorter period. The new card may be used for employment eligibility verification (I-9) by employers as a List A document.