By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The USCIS has updated Section 6.3 of the M-274 Handbook for Employers in reference to acceptable documents for refugees and asylees. As we know, refugees and asylees are employment eligible due to their status as a refugee or asylee and are authorized to work indefinitely because their immigration status does not expire.


Upon admission to the United States, DHS provides refugees with a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, which does not expire. Thus, when refugees are completing a Form I-9, they should check “alien authorized to work” and enter “N/A” on the Expiration Date field in Section 1, even if they have an EAD with an expiration date.

The departure portion that contains an unexpired refugee admission stamp or an electronic Form I-94 with an admission class of “RE” is an acceptable receipt establishing both employment authorization and identity for 90 days. If the refugee presents this receipt, the refugee, at the end of the 90-day receipt period, must present either an EAD or a List B document, i.e., a state-issued driver’s license, List C document, i.e., unrestricted Social Security card. See, concerning new receipt guidance.

Refugees may also present an expired EAD with a Form I-797C, Notice of Action, if the notice lists the same employment authorization category as the expired EAD. This combination is considered an unexpired List A document and is valid for up to 180 days after the “Card Expires” date on the EAD.


After being granted asylum in the United States, DHS issues a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, to asylees. Form I-94 will contain a stamp or notation, such as “asylum granted indefinitely” or the appropriate provision of law to show their employment authorization. An asylee can also present an electronic Form I-94 with an admission class of “AY.” Form I-94 is an acceptable List C document and does not expire. Asylees who choose to present this document must also present a List B identity document, such as a state-issued driver’s license or identification card. Asylees may also present EADs issued to them by the USCIS. When completing Form I-9, asylees should indicate “alien authorized to work” and enter “N/A” on the expiration date line in Section 1, even if they have an EAD with an expiration date.


We have recently seen the USCIS announcing changes to the online version of the M-274 Handbook. Thus, it’s important to rely upon the online version and not a PDF version which may have been previously printed for training and education.

If you are concerned about your company’s immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, available at