U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that beginning on June 30, 2008 it will issue work cards valid for two years to individuals who have filed for permanent residence ("green cards") but whose applications cannot be approved because an immigrant visa number is not currently available.
The problem has become common for individuals who applied for permanent residency last summer when the State Department reported that all employment based green card categories were currently available. This announcement resulted in a deluge of applications in July and August that created long backlogs in the issuance of green cards that will likely continue for several more years. USCIS later qualified its position by announcing that to be eligible for a 2-year work card, the I-140 petition, filed by the employer prior to or concurrently with the green card application (I-485) must have been approved. If the I-140 is still pending, USCIS will only issue a 1-year work card.
USCIS will review the issue of visa retrogression at the time the work card application (I-765) is filed. However, if the priority date is current as of the date of filing, but later retrogresses while the I-765 application is pending, USCIS has the discretion to review the case again and issue the 2-year EAD. If the priority date is backlogged as of the date of filing, but later becomes current while the I-765 is pending, USCIS also has the discretion to review the case again and issue a 1-year EAD.
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