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What is the Compelling Circumstances EAD?

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

If you are laid off and on a visa, should you consider the I-140 "Compelling Circumstances" EAD?

Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing in this article. We'll also be discussing:

  • What is the compelling circumstances EAD?

  • How does it work?

  • Will it work for you?

  • Why you should try this?

  • Are there any downsides of applying for Compelling circumstances EAD?

  • What is the process to apply for it?


So, should you apply for the 1-140 Compelling Circumstances EAD?

Well, the answer to that is Maybe.


But before we talk about that, let us first understand what it is.

Compelling Circumstances EAD
Compelling Circumstances EAD

What is Compelling Circumstances EAD?

It's a remedy USCIS created in the Obama years to give employees on work visas with approved I-140s who are stuck in decades-long backlogs some relief if they suffer things like serious illnesses, employer retaliation, or some kind of other major disruptions to the employer, and cannot work on the visa anymore.


How does it work?

You have to apply for the compelling circumstances EAD while you are in your 60-day grace period after getting losing your job on H-1B visa. If approved, you get a one-year EAD for you and your dependents.


Will it work?

It's unclear and totally case-by-case. Historically, USCIS did not consider a layoff a compelling circumstance. But based on their publishing an entire page (link below in comments) devoted to resources for laid-off employees, including the I-140 EAD, they may consider this historic round of tech layoffs to be a "compelling circumstance".


It all depends on how good of an argument you can make.


Why would I try this?


While pending, it will keep you and your family in a period of legal stay. If approved, you and your family can work and are in a period of legal stay for the validity period of the EAD. You can extend it, but only under very limited circumstances.


What are the downsides?

There is no guarantee it will be approved. These are hard. If it's not, you will be retroactively out of status. If it is approved, you cannot just change back to the visa. You will have to leave the US and reenter with a valid visa stamp.


What’s the process to apply for it?

You must file Form I-765, which is basically an application for a work permit also known as EAD to request an initial grant of employment authorization under category (c)(35) or (c)(36).

Please note that you must receive an EAD from USCIS before you can begin working under this employment authorization.


Along with the form and the filing fees you also need to submit supporting evidence. Submitting sufficient supporting evidence will minimize the likelihood of an RFE.


Here's the USCIS link that deep dives a little bit into the type of evidence you need to share for a higher chance of getting an approval:


In Summary, there are pros and cons of applying for the compelling circumstances EAD. However, in our opinion the pros outweighs the cons and one should definitely consider this as a great option.


Hopefully, this was helpful.

We know these are difficult times. But please stay strong. Things will eventually get better. Like we say, It’s Ok Yaar.


You can also check out the full video on our YouTube channel:




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