USCIS recently began issuing some approval notices bearing two different expiration dates for certain nonimmigrant classifications, including H-1B and L-1. The expiration date at the top of the Approval Notice reflects the dates requested in the petition and the period of work authorization. However, the I-94 at the bottom of the approval notice now shows an expiration date that is 10 days later. This longer I-94 validity period includes the new 10-day grace period authorized by a new USCIS regulation that went into effect in January 2017. This grace period allows temporary workers time to depart the United States or seek a change or extension of lawful status.
What does a USCIS approval notice with two expiration dates mean? The individual is authorized to work until the petition expiration date listed at the top of the approval notice. The individual may remain in the United States, but not work, for the additional 10 days on the I-94. Employers should closely review their I-797 approval notices and note the expiration date listed at the top of the approval notice for tracking of work authorization dates and timely reverification of the Form I-9.
Employees should be aware that, if they work during this 10-day period, it could impact their eligibility for a change or extension of status, and would require disclosure in any future application that questions whether an applicant has ever worked without authorization or otherwise violated the terms and conditions of his or her lawful admission to the United States. Though it is unlikely under current procedures, USCIS could use unauthorized work resulting from confusion about working during the 10-day grace period as a basis to deny extensions or applications. Although denial for this reason might be unlikely, denial for failure to disclose such unauthorized employment would be a real concern for those who failed to disclose their work during the grace period.
If you have any questions about status, work authorization, or what documents to carry, you should contact an immigration lawyer.