Many applicants for U.S. permanent resident status no longer hold H-1B, L-1, O-1 or other temporary/nonimmigrant status because their employers choose not to seek extensions of the applicants’ nonimmigrant status, especially given that USCIS charges for and issues employment authorization cards and travel documents as part of the permanent resident application.

Applicants for permanent residence may apply to renew their employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel authorization documents (known as Advance Parole) as long as their permanent residence applications are pending with USCIS. However, this circumstance puts the burden on permanent residence applicants who are employed to ensure that there is no gap in their work authorization.

USCIS policy prohibits applicants from filing EAD and Advance Parole renewal applications more than 120 days before their EADs and Advance Paroles will expire. USCIS encourages applicants to file such applications at least 90 days in advance to avoid any gap in EAD or Advance Parole.

With USCIS' recent migration to a lockbox filing approach (rather than filing applications directly with USCIS, applicants must file with a contractor that runs a lockbox for USCIS), the lockbox contractor is routinely taking four to six weeks just to accept applications and issue Receipt Notices. Even after Receipt Notices are issued, there is additional delay in routing accepted applications from the lockbox to USCIS for actual adjudication. As a result, EAD and Advance Parole applications are now taking much longer than 90 days to be decided, with delays sometimes stretching five months and longer. There is no indication that the lockbox problems will be resolved anytime soon.