Approved for permanent residency in the US? As an H4 dependent, did you get your I-140 and finally get approved to work in the US with an EAD? But you will have to wait at least six months before USCIS can issue you your card itself. Due to contractual issues, USCIS has had to severely reduce the production of cards like Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Cards and Employment Authorization Documents.
The USCIS has been under a lot of stress lately, both financial as well as with personnel issues. The agency recently announced that they were having a huge financial deficit and requested the US Congress for a $1.2 billion bailout. Lack of funds has also led to a hiring freeze within the agency. The Congress is yet to take a call on this.
Money Issues at USCIS
Proposal To Increase H1-B Application Fees To Mitigate Revenue Losses
In June, it also announced that over 13,000 employees will be furloughed by August 2020, thereby resulting several processing delays and in-person services. This began with the Vermont Service Center which furloughed 1,100 of its employees last month.
The Covid pandemic has also caused other processing delays for those who are recently approved for US citizenship. Coupled with employee furloughs, over 315,000 people are waiting to take their Oath of Allegiance after having received their US citizenship approvals.
Not being able to securely print green cards and EAD cards for those already approved signifies that many applicants may not be able to enjoy the benefits of being in this immigration status even after getting officially approved. Applicants for green cards have had to wait for 12-17 years before getting approval.
USCIS Steps Up During The Pandemic
Offers leniency for the submission and response of some notices
In the interim, the Ombudsman is supporting the USCIS office by monitoring and updating a list of all approved green card and EAD applicants who are yet to receive their secure document. If applicants have been waiting for over three weeks, they can approach the Ombudsman for assistance as well.
What Can You Do If You Are Approved But Have Not Received Your Green Card Or EAD Yet?
There are several privileges when receiving a US immigrant visa or getting your I-140 approved. While an H4 dependent is eligible to obtain employment once their Form I-140 is approved and they receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), permanent residents can switch between employers and travel in and out of the United States conveniently.
Also Read: Privileges of Having a Green Card
Here’s what you can do if you need to travel abroad without having a physical green card in hand or apply for local employment without the physical EAD:
- Online Check: Confirm that your I-485 has been approved by checking your case status online. This can be done by inserting your I-485 case number located at the top left corner of the receipt notice into uscis.gov under ‘Check your case status’ tab.
- Ombudsman Help: If you have been approved but haven’t received your secure document, you can request USCIS Ombudsman to assist with expediting the process of disseminating your document. This can be done at https://www.dhs.gov/topic/cis-ombudsman/forms/7001.
- InfoPass: If you are experiencing delays in receiving the final green card or EAD, you can request for a status update in person with an Infopass appointment at your local USCIS field office. This appointment can be made by calling the USCIS’ Contact Center at 800-375-5283.
Traveling Abroad Without Physical Green Card In Hand
As an approved permanent resident, if you have to travel out of the United States, you will need to show a physical green card to the CBP officer to re-enter the country. If you are having to travel before receiving the green card, you can do the following:
- Form I-90: Fill out a Form I-90, Application to renew or replace your green card. This can be submitted either online or through mail. Once you fill this out, print the receipt and retain for your records.
- Form I-551 Stamp: Request for an InfoPass Appointment with at a USCIS field office where you can ask to get the I-551 stamp (immigrant stamp), which is a stamp in your passport confirming your status as a permanent resident. This stamp acts as a temporary evidence of approved immigrant status and allows you to re-enter the United States from a temporary travel abroad.
- Documents: You will need a copy of your I-485 receipt number, receipt of I-90 and a valid passport.
More Information: On How To Replace Your Lost Green Card