On February 11, 2011, The United States Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it had begun issuing a Form I-766 or Employment Authorization Document or EAD (aka the “Work Permit”) with a “built-in” Advance Parole. The announcement states that the single card would be issued to certain applicants filing Form I-485, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status in the U.S. This represents a very creative move for USCIS. EAD cards contain a great number of anti-fraud devices and by adding a “built-in” Advance Parole USCIS has now made the Advance Parole a secured document. Prior to February 11, 2011, the Advance Parole was printed on paper, which is highly susceptible to fraud.

The new EAD card is basically the same, except that it now includes a standardized legend at the bottom of the card which reads: “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole.” The back of the card still retains the machine-readable zone (“MRZ”) introduced on the back of the EADs in May of 2010. This new EAD card is also more durable.

To obtain this EAD card, however, applicants still have to go through the tedious process of filing a Form I-131, the Application for Travel Document, and a Form I-765, separately but concurrently. Applicants will no longer have to wait for two different documents to be approved and sent to them. USCIS will continue, however, to issue separate EADs and Advance Parole documents in cases in which an applicant does not file for an Advance Parole or in cases the Advance Parole is denied.

Applicants must remember that this new EAD/Advance Parole card, does not authorize admission; it only allows a CBP officer to parole an applicant into the U.S.

Costs for this EAD card are the same and an additional advantage, if any, is that the new card does not have an impact on the employment verification process. The new EAD card is still listed and qualifies as a document from column A of Form I-9.

With all the advanced systems the DHS is incorporating, the time may be coming in which USCIS could be issuing only one permanent card, from the beginning to the end of the process, which would allow permanent residence applicants to travel, work, and reside in the U.S.