USCIS has recently updated the list of compelling circumstances that might make an immigrant eligible for a work permit in the United States.
To be eligible based on compelling circumstances, you must meet the following requirements:
• The principal applicant is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, in either the first, second, or third preference employment-based category;
• The principal applicant has valid E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1 nonimmigrant status or is in an authorized grace period when filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization;
• The principal applicant has not filed an adjustment of status application;
• An immigrant visa is not available for the principal applicant based on the applicant’s priority date according to the relevant Final Action Date in the U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin in effect when filing Form I-765;
• The applicant provides biometric data as required;
• The applicant has not been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors; and
• USCIS determines, at its discretion, that the principal applicant demonstrates compelling circumstances that justify the issuance of employment authorization.
Compelling circumstances included for principal applicants and their dependents:
• Serious illnesses and disabilities
• Employer disputes or retaliation
• Other substantial harm to the applicant
• Or significant disruption to the employer.
The guidance also provides details on the evidence an applicant could submit to demonstrate one of these compelling circumstances.
A principal applicant with an approved immigrant visa petition in a visa category with excess demand or a visa area that is oversubscribed, who has resided in the United States for a substantial period, might submit evidence such as:
• School or higher education enrollment records
• Mortgage records, or records of a long-term lease
Compelling circumstances could include:
• Loss of employment
• Forced sale of family home due to a loss
• Children having to leave school
• And relocating to their home country.
This article aims to provide general information and should not be considered legal advice on any specific matter. It's always advisable to seek advice from a qualified attorney for specific legal guidance.