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Compelling Circumstances EAD (c)(35): A Strategy to Protect Workers from Accruing Unlawful Presence

Posted by Fariba Faiz | Aug 12, 2023 | 0 Comments

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published new guidelines on June 14, 2023, regarding the Compelling Circumstances Employment Authorization Document (EAD) under section (c)(35). This significant development has introduced a temporary relief strategy that could assist certain non-immigrant workers who face compelling circumstances, such as being laid off or facing other personal hardships.

What is the Compelling Circumstances EAD?

The Compelling Circumstances EAD is a provision that grants temporary work authorization to specific non-immigrant visa holders who are in the process of adjusting their status to become lawful permanent residents.

The Aim of the (c)(35) Category

It is essential to understand that this EAD does not create any status. Instead, it aims at preventing the worker from accruing unlawful presence in the United States. This distinction is vital, as it helps workers maintain their eligibility for immigration benefits without affecting their overall immigration status.

How Can It Help?

The following are key ways in which the Compelling Circumstances EAD can act as a protective strategy:

  1. Temporary Work Authorization: By providing the ability to work for any employer, it offers flexibility for workers who are facing challenges with their current non-immigrant status, such as being laid off.

  2. Avoiding Unlawful Presence: If a non-immigrant visa holder loses their job, they could be at risk of accruing unlawful presence, which could lead to future immigration consequences. This EAD offers a legal pathway to continue working while avoiding the accrual of unlawful presence.

  3. Legal Bridge: It serves as a legal bridge for those awaiting adjustment of status, ensuring that they can continue working legally in the United States under compelling circumstances.


The Compelling Circumstances EAD under section (c)(35), as outlined by USCIS on June 14, 2023, is a valuable tool for workers facing unique and compelling circumstances. While it does not confer any legal status, it serves as a strategy to protect eligible individuals from accruing unlawful presence, thereby preserving their ability to seek future immigration benefits.

Given the complexity of the guidelines and the specific eligibility requirements, consultation with an immigration attorney is highly advisable to navigate the application process and understand the potential impact on one's immigration journey.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. For personalized guidance, please consult with a competent immigration law professional.

About the Author

Fariba Faiz

Fariba is the founder of the Law Offices of Fariba Faiz, based out of San Francisco, California. Attorney Faiz is an experienced immigration attorney with a proven track record of successfully petitions for investment immigration (E-1/E-2 visas plus direct and regional center EB-5 pr...


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