USCIS Grants 24-Month Extensions for Certain Green Card Holders

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What is the 24-Month Extensions Policy?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has just announced a new policy that grants 24-month extensions for certain Green Card holders amid processing delays. This policy, which is set to go into effect on November 10, 2020, is designed to protect the financial stability of immigrants who are waiting on their applications to be approved.

The 24-month extension applies to eligible employment-based aliens who have a pending adjustment of status application with USCIS that is subject to a backlog due to per-country visa limits or processing delays. Family-based aliens with an approved immigrant petition have not yet been adjudicated due to backlogs or delays.

The extension will be granted automatically and does not require any action from applicants. The 24 months will be added onto the original expiration date of their Form I-94 arrival record, allowing them to stay in the United States as they await the outcome of their application.

Who is Eligible for 24-Month Extensions?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that due to significant processing delays, certain green card holders are eligible to receive an additional 24-month extension on their current approved Green Card. This new policy will apply to any green card holder whose application or petition is subject to processing delays beyond their control. The specific green card holders eligible for these 24-month extensions include:

  • Those with an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.
  • Employees who have applied for employment authorization must wait 150 days for a response.
  • Spouses and children of a principal green card applicant.
  • Those whose travel document has expired or will expire within the next 180 days.

This policy change is intended to provide relief to those who are facing delays in obtaining their permanent residence due to no fault of their own. USCIS encourages eligible applicants to contact their local office for further information.

What are the Benefits of the 24-Month Extension?

The 24-month extension grants the holder a few benefits, chief among them the assurance they will still have a valid green card when it expires. During this time, the holder can continue to work and live in the United States without fear of their status change. However, there are a few other advantages associated with this extension as well:

  1. No need to apply for travel authorization- Applicants can travel abroad without needing to apply for USCIS authorization.
  2. No fees- The 24-month extension does not require any fees or paperwork, which makes it easier for green card holders to stay in the United States for the duration of their extension period.
  3. Continued coverage under work permits- Green card holders can continue working and renew their permits when their extensions expire.
  4. Continued health insurance coverage- Green card holders have a 24-month extension to access health insurance through an employer or private plans.

What Documents Do I Need to Apply for the 24-Month Extensions?

Applying for a 24-month extension to your green card is no small feat. Depending on the current processing delays and the type of documents you are required to provide, the application can take up to one year or longer. To make sure your application is successful, you must have all the necessary documents ready before applying.

The most important documents you will need for the 24-month extensions include:

  1. Your current green card
  2. Proof of employment
  3. Evidence of financial support
  4. Evidence of any dependents
  5. Any required medical paperwork

It’s also recommended that applicants include additional evidence such as references from their employer or community members, character certificates, and letters of recommendation. All these items can help to strengthen your case and show that you are a responsible applicant who deserves an extension.

How Do I Apply for the 24-Month Extensions?

If you are an immigrant with a pending Green Card application, you may be eligible for a 24-month extension on your current Green Card. USCIS has introduced this policy to help those who have been dealing with processing delays. To apply for the 24-month extension, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have an approved or pending I-140 immigrant petition
  • Your priority date must be current through the Visa Bulletin
  • You must have been in valid nonimmigrant status before applying for the 24-Month extension
  • If you meet these criteria and would like to apply for the 24-Month extensions, your first step is to file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Make sure that you file this application at least 45 days before your current status expires, as USCIS will not accept applications after that date. 
  • Filing I-140 petition and other documents to prove green card efforts.

Once your form has been submitted and reviewed by USCIS, if approved you will receive notice of approval and instructions on how to proceed.

What Happens after my Application is Approved?

Once your application is approved for a 24-month extension, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This document provides authorization to work and travel within the US for two years. You will be able to extend this period, subject to the same review process as all Green Card applicants. 

  • You will also be eligible for certain benefits, such as Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance.
  • Furthermore, if you are already a lawful permanent resident and employed by the US government or if you are an immediate family member of someone who is employed by the US government you may be eligible for certain additional benefits, such as health care benefits or additional travel opportunities.
  • It is important to remember that your 24-month extension does not guarantee permanent residency status in the US—it only provides temporary relief from processing delays caused by USCIS. You must continue to seek permanent residency status and follow all other requirements to remain lawfully in the country.

How to Track your Application Status for the 24-Month Extension?

If you’re one of the many green card holders affected by USCIS processing delays, you can apply for a 24-month extension. To make sure the application is being processed correctly and to track its status, it’s important to register with the USCIS online system. Once registered, you’ll be able to check the status of your application and get updates on any changes or developments. After submitting your application, here’s how to track it:

  • Log into your online account with USCIS and look for “My Cases”
  • Choose the green card extension option
  • You should see a confirmation page with your application number
  • Every time you log in again, you can find this number at the top of your dashboard
  • You can also call their customer service at 1-800-767-1833 and provide them with your application number to get an update on the status
  • If all goes well and your application is approved, an electronic notification will be sent to you from USCIS, and on most occasions, you will get your new physical card within 7 to 10 business days.

Knowing every step in this process helps ensure an easier time tracking your green card extension application through USCIS as delays continue due to COVID-19 response measures and other reasons affecting processing times.

FAQs About the 24-Month Extensions

To help Green Card holders understand the current situation, and how the 24-Month Extensions will affect them, we have provided answers to some common questions here.

  • Q: What is a 24-month extension? A 24-month extension is a period of additional time that allows Green Card holders to remain in their current status without having to start their application process over. This extension pertains only to certain Green Cards and is in response to USCIS processing delays.
  • Q: Who can apply for the 24-month extension? This extension only applies to those with conditional permanent resident status who filed a petition under section 216(c)(4) or 216(c)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The filing date for the petition must be on or before September 30, 2020.
  • Q: How do I apply for the 24-month Extension? Green Card holders who meet the criteria can apply for an automated 24-month extension by submitting Form I-751 with the required supporting documentation. The filing fee of $555 must also be included with your application.

USCIS’s decision to grant 24-month extensions for certain green card holders is welcome news for those who have waited for their applications to be processed. This is especially true for those in the green card category who are impacted by long processing delays. While not a permanent fix, the extension permits individuals to stay in the United States so they can continue to work and pursue other activities while they wait for their application to be finalized. For those affected, it is essential to stay up-to-date on the latest developments, as USCIS continues to assess the impact of the current processing delays.