USCIS Streamlines Process for Refugee Employment Authorization Documents

USCIS has announced that it has begun implementing a streamlined process for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to provide Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) more efficiently to eligible refugees after they are admitted into the United States. USCIS launched this process on December 10, 2023, following a successful trial period.

  • This streamlined process shortens the wait time for an EAD to approximately 30 days instead of several months.
  • All individuals admitted into the United States as refugees on or after December 10, 2023, will receive EADs pursuant to this new process.

Under US law, a refugee is legally authorized to work as soon as they arrive in the United States. Obtaining proof of this work authorization in the form of an EAD, however, was previously a paper-based process that led to delays. The new process is fully automated and no longer requires refugees to apply for an EAD, allowing for more efficient processing and adjudication of Form I-765 and quicker delivery of EADs after approval.

What to Expect
  • With this new process, USCIS will digitally create a Form I-765 for arriving refugees and begin adjudicating it as soon as they are admitted into the United States.
  • After USCIS approves a refugee’s Form I-765, refugees will generally receive their EAD within one to two weeks.
  • USCIS will mail their EAD via US Postal Service Priority Mail to their address of record.
  • The time frame for a refugee to receive their EAD card may vary, depending on delivery times, but refugees should 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.

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.

Erickson Insights and Analysis

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to monitor developments and share updates as more news is available. Please contact your employer or EIG attorney if you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions.