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This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh is an active member.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 12, 2024, that it has begun implementing a streamlined process to provide Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) more efficiently to eligible refugees after they are admitted into the United States. The process shortens the wait time for an EAD to approximately 30 days instead of several months, USCIS said. All individuals admitted into the United States as refugees on or after December 10, 2023, will receive EADs pursuant to this new process.

The new process is fully automated and no longer requires refugees to apply for an EAD. USCIS will digitally create a Form I-765 (EAD) for arriving refugees and begin adjudicating it as soon as they are admitted into the United States. USCIS indicated that after it approves a refugee’s Form I-765, refugees “will generally receive their EAD within one to two weeks,” although timeframes may vary depending on delivery times. USCIS will mail the EAD via U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail to the refugee’s address of record. USCIS asks that refugees allow a total of 30 days before inquiring.

USCIS will also electronically provide the Social Security Administration with the information required to assign a Social Security number and mail a Social Security card to the refugee.

USCIS noted that this process does not apply to following-to join refugees admitted into the United States based on an approved Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. Additionally, refugees seeking a replacement or renewal EAD will still need to complete and submit Form I-765, USCIS said.

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