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Can a healthcare or childcare worker expedite their application for an initial employment authorization document (EAD)?

By December 27, 2022Immigration
A healthcare worker giving a high five to a child

USCIS continues to be plagued by extensive delays, including delays that affect the processing of applications for work authorization. Currently, USCIS estimates that it can take upwards of 17 months or longer for the agency to process a simple Form I-765, which is the application for an employment authorization document, or EAD, that provides the ability to work in the U.S.

For healthcare or childcare workers who are in the U.S. and are waiting for USCIS to process their initial Form I-765, USCIS has recently announced an option to expedite the EAD. In this blog post, we take a look at who qualifies for an expedite request, and how they can ask USCIS to expedite their application.

Who qualifies for a request for expedited processing of an initial Form I-765?

Only those who are working as “healthcare” or “childcare” workers qualify to request expedited processing of their initial Form I-765. USCIS has specific definitions of who is and is not a “healthcare worker” or a “childcare worker” for the purposes of being able to request an expedited EAD.

A “healthcare worker” is defined in the Department of Homeland Security’s document titled “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.” That document, which can be found here, defines on pages 7 to 9 a variety of “Healthcare/Public Health” positions, including home care workers, hospital workers, laboratory personnel, and pharmacy staff, among others.

“Childcare workers” is defined in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System. SOC Code 39-9011 defines such workers as those who “attend to children at schools, businesses, private households, and childcare institutions” and who “perform a variety of tasks, such as dressing, feeding, bathing, and overseeing play.” Importantly, the definition explicitly excludes preschool, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers and teaching assistants, unless they provide special education.

It is also important to note that the individual must be in valid immigration status, so the applicant should ensure that their I-94 is valid.

I qualify as a healthcare worker or as a childcare worker. How do I request that my initial EAD application be expedited?

Once you have determined that you qualify as either a healthcare worker or childcare worker, you must contact the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833) in order to request that your initial I-765 be expedited.

There are specific instructions for those who have a pending T, U, or VAWA petition. If you have a pending T or U visa application, please follow the instructions USCIS provides here. If you have a pending VAWA I-360 or I-485, please follow the instructions USCIS provides here.

What documents or information should I prepare for my EAD expedite request?

First, gather documents that clearly describe your position as a healthcare or childcare worker. Be prepared to refer to the government’s definitions of these categories of workers, and to explain to USCIS, in detail, how you qualify under one of these two categories. Gather any proof of your employment, including an employment verification letter, recent earnings statements, or pay stubs.

Additionally, gather proof that you are currently in a valid immigration status, including your most recent, unexpired Form I-94 (which can be found online here), and any receipt notices provided by USCIS if you have applied for an extension or change of status.

For general guidance on making an expedite request, please see our earlier post here.

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