Employment Authorization Documents Automatically Extended

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently extended the Temporary Protected Status designation for El Salvador for a period of eighteen (18) months, until September 9, 2016. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries because the country has experienced temporary negative conditions, such as armed conflict or an environmental disaster, that prevent nationals of that country from returning safely or prevent the country from handling their return adequately. There are currently several countries designated for TPS, including Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti.

Qualifying individuals from El Salvador may re-register for TPS status by filing Form I-821. Applicants can also apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting Form I-765. The EADs of El Salvadorans currently in TPS status will be automatically extended for a period of six months, through September 9, 2015. The automatic extension is limited to EADs with an expiration date of March 9, 2015. The EADs must also bear the designation “A-12” or “C-19” on the face of the card under “Category” to qualify for the six month extension. Eventually, qualified individuals will receive new EADs valid to September 9, 2016.

When completing Form I-9 using an automatically extended EAD prior to September 9, 2015, for a new hire, the USCIS advises as follows:

  1. In Section 1, the employee checks “An alien authorized to work,” writes the A-number in the first space, and writes the automatic extension date (September 9, 2015) in the second space.
  2. In Section 2, the employer records the document title, records the document number, and records the automatically extended EAD expiration date (September 9, 2015).

After September 9, 2015, the employer will have to re-verify the employee’s authorization to work.

For an existing employee who presented a TPS EAD that was valid at the time of hire, has a printed expiration date of March 9, 2015, and is now automatically extended, the USCIS recommends the following Form I-9 procedure:

  1. In Section 1, the employee draws a line through the expiration date in the second space, writes September 9, 2015 above the previous date, writes “TPS Ext.” in the margin of Section 1, and initials and dates the correction.
  2. In Section 2, the employer draws a line through the expiration date written in Section 2, writes September 9, 2015 above the previous date, writes “TPS Ext.” in the margin of Section 2, and initials and dates the correction.

After September 9, 2015, the employer must re-verify the employee’s authorization to work.

Employers who participate in E-Verify will receive a “Work Authorization Documents Expiring” case alert. For existing employees with TPS EADs that have been automatically extended, USCIS instructs employers to dismiss the E-Verify case alert by clicking the red “X” in the “dismiss alert” column and follow the instructions above explaining how to correct the Form I-9.

USCIS reminds employers that they cannot require employees to present proof of their El Salvadoran citizenship.