Working With Employment Authorization Documents

Employers puzzled by Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) frequently call MSEC Immigration Services with questions about this I-9 issue. Here is some basic information about working with these cards.

The colorful cards look like this:

IDCard

The EADs are item 4, List A documents for I-9 purposes. When completing Section 1 of the I-9, the employee marks status as “Alien authorized to work until … ” and provides the expiration date of the EAD. The employee must also provide either the USCIS number from the face of the card or an I-94 admission number. The employer completes information from the EAD in Column A, Section 2.

The EAD is TEMPORARY WORK AUTHORIZATION. To continue employment after expiration of the card, the I-9 must be REVERIFIED to show that the employee is still work-authorized. The employer records the new documents in Section 3 and signs the certification. The new document need not be a new EAD if the employee has another document that complies with I-9 requirements.

Most of the time, the employer must initiate reverification without an outside reminder. Ticklers are wise. Permitting the employee to continue to work without reverification after the card has expired constitutes a clear violation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act and can result in civil and criminal penalties.

There are many types of eligibility for EAD work authorization. Two classes of eligibility benefit from automatic extensions. These are professionals working on OPT (optional practical training) who have STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degrees and work for E-Verify employers and beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS beneficiaries are citizens of certain countries to which the U.S. has extended special protection. Information about these automatic extensions is available at www.uscis.gov or by calling MSEC’s immigration attorneys.

In all other cases, the expiration of the card ends the period of temporary work authorization, and only presentation of a new, currently valid EAD (or other documents sufficient under I-9) will extend work authorization for the employee. No substitutes! Processing time for EAD renewals varies from 60 to over 120 days, which is why gaps are prevalent. Sadly, a worker who depends on the EAD for work authorization and is experiencing a gap must not be permitted to work and may be terminated. For more information call 800.884.1328.