On August 3, 2020, a federal district court issued a temporary ruling ordering USCIS to issue work permits to individuals whose work permit applications have been approved, but who have not subsequently received the actual work permit cards needed as evidence of their authorization to work in the U.S. The court also denied the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
The temporary restraining order is in effect nationwide while the case continues to be litigated.
Work-authorized noncitizens nationwide have lost jobs, or been unable to be hired because, months after approving their work permit applications, USCIS has not mailed them the actual work permit cards that serve as both their proof identity and of their permission to work in the U.S. for Form I-9 employment authorization verification purposes.
The delays in work permit card issuance are allegedly a result of USCIS’s failure to renew a contract with a card production facility. Cards that used to be produced and mailed to applicants within a few days of work authorization renewal application approvals are now not being mailed out for months afterwards. In the meantime, employers may be forced to lay off employees whose work permits, and if applicable, automatic extensions, have expired, or can’t retain new immigrant employees if those employees aren’t able to show an unexpired work authorization card within three days of hire.
Employers should reach out to their immigration counsel if they have employees whose work authorization renewals have been approved but who haven’t received their renewed work permits and whose I-9s will need reverification soon. Employers who don’t have immigration counsel can reach out to MeBIC to learn more about what their employees can do to benefit from this court case.