The announcement that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are allowing eligible individuals a conditional permanent resident extension to 24 months is another change to the growing number of changes to some Form I-9 practices due to pandemic challenges, which can be overwhelming to employers already doing their best to stay current and compliant on new procedures.
USCIS Allows Conditional Permanent Resident Extension to 24 Months
As of September 4, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced they are extending the time that receipt notices can be used to illustrate evidence of status for conditional permanent residents to twenty-four months. However, petitioners must also correctly file other pertinent forms, such as:
- Form I-751 also known as the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence
- Form I-829 often referred to as Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
Prior to September 4, 2021, the extension was limited to eighteen months. The extension of an additional six months was made in an effort to help officials process the influx of the Forms I-751 and I-829, which have increased dramatically over the last year or so.
How This Could Change What Employers Look for In Terms of Receipt Notices
When it comes to how this extension may change what employers look for in terms of receipt notices, petitioners may be divided into three primary groups based on their specific situation:
- Individuals who filed on September 4, 2021 or after and correctly filed the proper forms
- Individuals who filed on September 4, 2021 or after and did not correctly file the proper forms
- Eligible conditional permanent residents who filed before September 4, 2021 and who still have pending cases
Those who petitioned on or after September 4, 2021 and correctly filed the appropriate forms should receive a receipt notice to be presented with their Form I-551 (also known as Permanent Resident Card or Green Card). This may serve as proof of a continued or extended status for up to twenty-four months beyond the Green Card expiration date while their case is pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Persons that did petition on or after September 4, 2021 but did not file the proper forms in a correct manner will likely not receive a receipt notice that lends itself to an extended status.
Eligible conditional permanent residents who properly filed their petition and related forms before the September 2021 deadline and still have pending cases will be issued new receipt notices that will serve as evidence of a continued status for twenty-four months beyond their Green Card expiration date.
Employers may also want to note that:
- Conditional permanent residents planning to be out of the United States for a minimum of one year or more must apply for a reentry permit via Form I-131 called the Application for Travel Document before ever leaving the country.
- The above changes relate to the extension of an expiring Green Card. This means that individuals who have lost or seek to replace a Green Card will still need to follow regular U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services standards unless instructed otherwise by the agency.
What This Extension Means for Employers in Terms of the Form I-9 and E-Verify Program
By and large, the most common issue employers may run into in regard to the extension sticker and the Form I-9 and E-Verify program can be how to document employment authorization for a pending I-90 application or expired Green Card.
In light of the conditional permanent resident extension to 24 months, employees can show employers their expired Green Card in addition to their Form I-797 or I-90 receipt notice. This should suffice for an approved document from List A on the Form I-9, which helps establish an individual’s identity and employment authorization.
In terms of employer documentation of the Green Card extension, they will need to:
- Document the expiration date 12 months past the expiration date appearing on the Green Card
- Note the extension as well as the Form I-797 or I-90 receipt number
- When applicable, keep copies of Green Card and receipt notice
How to Get Help Navigating Temporary Changes Such as Extensions When It Comes to the Form I-9
Because the Form I-9 has very specific regulations, guidelines, and deadlines, it is critical that employers follow these to the letter to increase the odds of being compliant in the event of an official audit. However, navigating temporary changes such as extensions can present unique challenges.
One of the most effective ways to remain current on laws that have the potential to change at any time, particularly during unprecedented times, is to enlist the help of a reputable provider dedicated to helping their clients learn better compliance practices for both the Form I-9 and E-Verify program. This should include:
- Being current on changing federal or state laws that could affect the Form I-9 or E-Verify processes
- Providing a free I-9 compliance checkup so a business can see where they stand after a sample simulated audit
- Offering solutions such as digital I-9 compliance software designed to alert employers of common mistakes before it becomes a compliance issue