Where is my Work Authorization Document?
The normal USCIS timeframe for approval of Form I-765 and issuance of the Work Authorization Document is approximately 60-90 days after receipt. USCIS instructions further indicate that if the I-765 has been pending for over 75 days, the applicant or their representative may contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) to verbally submit a “please, don’t forget about me(!)” inquiry. (More formally, this is known as an “Approaching Regulatory Timeframe Service Request”.)
A Request for Evidence (“RFE”) Can Slow Things Down
Before calling the NCSC and requesting such a request, the applicant should be sure to understand when the 75 day “clock” starts, and whether it has been interrupted. If, after submitting the case, USCIS sends the applicant a request for initial evidence, the 90-day regulatory period will actually start over from the date that USCIS receives the evidence requested. For example, if 45 days after submission of the I-765, the applicant receives an initial evidence request from USCIS, and submits the documents 30 days later, the 90-day regulatory period starts over when USCIS receives the documents submitted in response to the evidence request.
The same processing timeframe will apply if the initial evidence request pertains to the underlying application which serves as the basis for the work authorization request. For example, if eligibility for employment authorization is based on a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and USCIS issues a request for initial evidence pertaining to Form I-485, the clock for the Form I-765 will stop when USCIS issues the request for evidence and restart from Day One when USCIS receives the requested information.
In contrast to an initial evidence request, if USCIS sends a request for additional evidence, the clock will simply pause until the evidence is submitted, and then restart where it was previously, rather than start over. For example, if a case is pending 50 days when USCIS issues an additional evidence request and the Applicant’s response is received 10 days later by USCIS, the case will proceed with the clock resuming at day 51 on the date USCIS receives the newly submitted additional evidence.
What is Initial Evidence and What constitutes Additional Evidence?
USCIS defines Initial evidence as any document which is: 1) of evidence specifically requested on the form or form instructions; or 2) specified by regulation. Additional evidence is essentially anything the officer reviewing the case feels would be useful in shedding light on the Applicant’s eligibility beyond the initial case submission, even if the evidence is beyond that which is required by the regulations, form, or form instructions.
The easiest way to know what type of request for evidence has been issued is to simply read the request notice from USCIS, wherein the evidence request type is typically indicated. Please note that USCIS processing times are estimates, and while general processing time estimations can be given, they are subject to fluctuation.