By Linda Nwoke
The Autumn/Fall season brings a lot of noticeable changes – changing colors, shorter days, and lower temperatures. The progressive reduction of the hours of light also affects our bodies, including mild states of sadness and anxiety. Despite the changing times, COVID-19 continues to lurk around, keeping the nation and its system at all levels on edge. In anticipation of the changing times, policies are reviewed. The United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced its intention to accelerate the renewal of authorization to work documents for specific workers.
In August 2021, the agency released a comprehensive advisory guideline to support government officials and other vital employers of workers. Operators within the essential critical infrastructure on ways to reduce and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among these workforces. The comprehensive document detailed all relevant categories of workers that qualify as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.
Last month, on Oct 20 2022, the department released an updated guideline specifically addressing the delay and decision to accelerate the renewal and approval of work authorization documents (EAD) for two critical categories of workers – Healthcare/Public Health workers and Childcare Workers.
Under the initial USCIS guidance, over 20 categories of workers enlisted qualify under the HealthCare/Public Health for the accelerated work authorization (EAD) being implemented:
•Workers needed for COVID-19 or other diseases
•Workers required for direct patient care, complete healthcare, and public health spectrum.
•Workers that support transportation to and from the healthcare facility and provider appointments
•Workers who provide laundry services, food services, reprocessing of medical equipment, and waste management.
•Workers who manage health plans, billing, and health information (nonremote)
•Workers performing cybersecurity functions at healthcare and public health facilities(non-remote)
•Workers (non-remote) acting on behalf of healthcare entities, including healthcare coalitions
•Vendors and suppliers of medical equipment
•Workers at manufacturing and related organizations that operate and manage associated activities to COVID-19
•Pharmacy staff, including workers necessary to maintain uninterrupted prescriptions, and other workers for pharmacy operations
•Workers and materials needed to conduct bloodspot and point of care for newborn screening, as well as workers and materials needed for confirmatory diagnostic testing and initiation of treatment.
•Home health workers that go into the homes of individuals with chronic, complex conditions and/or disabilities to deliver nursing and/or daily living care.
•Workers in retail facilities specializing in medical goods and supplies.
•Public health and environmental health workers, like:
-Workers that specialize in environmental health prevent COVID-19 disease transmission.
•Public health/community health workers (non-remote).
•Human services providers, especially for at-risk populations like:
-Home-delivered meal providers and Homemaker services for frail, homebound, older adults.
-Personal assistance services providers
•Home health providers deliver health care services for persons who live independently in the community with support and assistance
-Workers who provide human services -Governmental entities and contractors that work in support of services necessary for supporting the COVID-19 response
-Workers for providers and services supporting effective telehealth
-Mortuary service providers
•Workers that qualify under Childcare Workers include:
-Childcare Workers (39-9011) and “Special Education teachers” (25-2011) and (25-9042)
For those that qualify for an expedited EAD as a health or childcare worker, as defined in the detailed guidance list of USCIS, you need to make a request for expedited processing of the EAD application.
Evidence required includes proof of profession (current or immediate prospective employment) as a healthcare or a childcare worker like an employment verification letter, recent earnings statement, or pay stubs) and current valid immigration status.
The expedited process only includes those with pending but valid immigration status for over 90 days and an initial Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.