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Certain Approval Notices for I-765 Acceptable for Form I-9 Purposes Due to Delays in EAD Card Issuance

21 Aug

On August 19, 2020, in response to a lawsuit challenging the delayed production and delivery of Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) entered into a consent decree allowing employers to temporarily accept certain approval notices for an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) for Form I-9 employment eligibility verification purposes in lieu of the actual physical card.    

Specifically, when completing Form I-9, employers will be allowed to temporarily accept as a valid List C#7 document a Form I-797, Notice of Action, with a Notice date on or after December 1, 2019, through and including August 20, 2020, that informs an applicant of approval of an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765).  

Ordinarily, an I-797 approval notice is not considered an acceptable document for Form I-9 purposes.  The special provision allows a qualifying approval notice to be accepted as a List C document evidencing employment authorization through December 1, 2020.  These approval notices are NOT acceptable as a List A or List B document.  

At the time of Form I-9 completion, new employees who chose to present a qualifying Form I-797 approval notice as a List C document must also present a List B document from the List of Acceptable Documents. as evidence of identity.   

By December 1, 2020, employers are required to reverify employees who presented approval notices as List C documents pursuant to this special provision.  At the time of this reverification, the employee should provide the actual EAD card or new evidence of his or her choice from List A or List C (List B documents are never reverified).  

As background to this temporary policy, this summer USCIS was involved in a class action lawsuit which claimed that 75,000 foreign nationals with approval to work in the U.S. risked being unable to obtain or maintain employment due to USCIS failure in printing new employment authorization cards.  The lawsuit alleged that USCIS made a “deliberate and intentional” decision to terminate its document printing contract with a third party “without having any intention or plan to replace that printing contract.”  USCIS has maintained that the delays are attributable to COVID-19.  The consent decree is expected to resolve this dispute.   

In the past, USCIS printed an EAD card within 48 hours of application approval, but USCIS delays have led to some foreign nationals having to wait months to receive the actual card, leading to gaps in their ability to work in the U.S.    

As these temporary procedural changes are somewhat complex, we encourage you to contact your Foster attorney if you have questions regarding verifications scenario involving these approval notices. Foster LLP will continue government procedural changes related to Form I-9, employment eligibility verification and will provide additional updates via our firm’s website at