Without a doubt, COVID-19 has had a disruptive effect on almost every aspect of our lives. The extraordinary and unprecedented public health emergency COVID-19 created has caused different businesses and government agencies to unexpectedly shutter their operations in order to minimize the spread of this virus. One unintended consequence is that COVID-19 has forced U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) processing of cases to come to a virtual standstill. As a result, the production of certain Employment Authorization Documents (Form I-766, EAD), among other things, has been delayed. Because failure to receive an EAD document can result in a foreign national not being able to continue to work (and ultimately) a termination, a lawsuit has been brought against USCIS in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Easter Division) challenging the delay in issuance of the employment authorization document (EAD) following approval of the I-765 application.
Today, USCIS announced that employees may use Form I-797, Notice of Action, with a Notice date on or after December 1, 2019 through and including August 20, 2020 informing an applicant of approval of an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) as a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, List C #7 document to establish employment authorization issued by the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 274a.2(b)(1)(v)(C)(7), even though the Notice states it is not evidence of employment authorization. This newly created exception to the Form I-9 rules will expire on December 1, 2020. Additionally, please note that employees will still be required to present a List B document to establish their identity.