Asylum is a part of U.S. immigration law that allows people fleeing from persecution or violence in their home country to live and work in the United States. If you have applied for asylum, and your application has been in process for more than 365 days, you can apply for a Work Permit. This Work Permit (often called an "Employment Authorization Document" or "EAD") allows you to work in the U.S. while you wait for a decision on your asylum case. You cannot work without it. This article contains everything you need to know to apply for a U.S. work permit as an asylee.
We can help you prepare and file your Asylum Work Permit application for free with our simple web application. Click the green button above to get started, or read on to learn more.
If your human rights have been violated because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, you can seek protection (asylum) in the U.S under U.S. immigration law. As an asylum applicant, you can also apply for employment authorization while you wait for a decision on your pending asylum application. If approved, you will receive a work permit that allows you to work in the U.S. while you wait for the asylum court to approve your case. Not all asylum applicants are eligible for work-authorization. The goal of this section is to highlight the eligibility and ineligibility requirements for an asylum work permit.
To submit an EAD application in 2020 system, two things must be true about your asylum application. Under the Trump administration's new rules,
There are several cases where you cannot apply for work authorization as an asylum-seeker.
If your asylum application is already approved, you don't need to apply for a work permit. You can submit the Social Security card the asylum office gave you to your employers as proof that you can work in the U.S. You can also have the asylum office prepare an EAD for you once your application is approved.
If you are responsible for the extended waiting period in processing your asylum application, you cannot apply for a work permit. You may be responsible for the wait time on your application's processing if you submitted additional evidence to your application before your asylum interview, postponed your application interview, did not show up to your biometrics appointment, among others. These will generally place a pause on your application’s processing. USCIS holds you responsible for this delay.
If USCIS denies your asylum application in the 365 days after you submit it to them, you cannot apply for a work permit.
If you submitted a work permit application 365 days after submitting your asylum application, and USCIS rejected your initial asylum application, you cannot apply for a work permit.
If you entered the U.S. unlawfully and cannot prove you had good reason to do so, you cannot apply for employment authorization. If you did not report to a U.S. immigration officer at the port of entry within 48 hours of your arrival and did not let the immigration officer know that you intend to apply for asylum, you are not allowed to apply for employment authorization.
If you submit your asylum application more than one year after you arrive in the U.S., you cannot apply for a work permit without the clearance of an immigration judge or asylum officer.
If you have committed a serious non-political crime outside of the U.S., or if you have been convicted of a crime within the U.S., you are not eligible to apply for a work permit. In such instances, it would be helpful to have an immigration lawyer take a look at your case. You can access free or low-cost immigration lawyers at USA.gov.
To learn more about how to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you can check out comprehensive filing guide on our website. You can also read more about the asylum application process on USCIS's website.
We can help you figure out if you are eligible to apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker for free with our simple web application.
Once you determine that you are eligible to apply for an asylum work permit, it is time to figure out when you can apply. There are two occasions when you can apply for an asylum work permit; 1) when you win your asylum case, and 2) when your asylum case has been pending for 365 days.
If you would like to learn more about applying for an employment authorization document, check out our comprehensive filing guide.
When you win your asylum case, you are automatically authorized to work in the United States. You do not need to apply for an EAD to prove that you are authorized to work. The Social Security card you receive as part of your asylum documents is all that you will need. If you would like to have an EAD for use as an I.D., you can apply for one. It would solely be for identification purposes and not to prove clearance for employment.
Until August 25, 2020, you could apply for an EAD as an asylum applicant if you hadn't received a decision on your application within 150 calendar days of submitting it to USCIS. After August 25, 2020, you can only apply for a work permit if it has been 365 calendar days since you submitted your asylum application and you have not yet received a decision from the asylum office or the immigration court.
When you submit your application for asylum to USCIS, they will typically let you know they have received your application by sending you a receipt notice 2-3 weeks later. The receipt notice will have a receipt date on the top left corner. You can begin counting 365 calendar days from the receipt date to determine if your asylum case has been pending for that long. Once the 365 calendar days pass, you can apply for a work permit. Remember that you can only apply for the work permit if you did not cause the delay in your asylum application's processing time.
We can help you figure out if it is time to apply for your asylum work permit for free.
To apply for an asylum work permit, you must complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and pay the required filing and biometrics fees. On August 3, 2020, USCIS published a final rule that increased most of its filing fees. The new fees were supposed to be in place beginning on October 2, 2020, but a California federal court has prevented the new immigration policy from being enforced. Until the Department of Homeland Security has permission from the courts to enforce their new rule, it costs $410 to get an asylum work permit. When the district court lifts the enforcement ban, it will cost a total of $580 to get an Asylum work permit. This includes a $550 filing fee for Form I-765 and a $30 biometrics fee (if applicable).
Under the asylum process, some applicants may not have to pay the filing fee at all. Use the USCIS Fee Calculator to check what your total fees will be. You can pay the fee by money order, personal check, or cashier's check made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You can also pay with credit or debit card by submitting Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions with your Form I-765.
If you are having difficulty paying the fees, you can submit Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, together with Form I-765. If your waiver application is approved, you will not have to pay any of the filing fees.
There are different eligibility categories for completing Form I-765. As an asylum seeker, you will be completing Form i-765 under the (c) (8) eligibility category. You will need to enter this as your answer for question 27 on the form. You must answer every question on Form I-765 so that USCIS doesn’t return it to you for edits or reject it outright. For the items that don't apply to you you must enter ‘not applicable’ or 'N/A.'
When you have completed Form I-765 and chosen a payment method for the filing and biometrics fees, you must assemble the supporting documents required for your work permit application. You will need the following:
You can see the full list of required supporting documents that USCIS will accept for the asylum work permit application on the USCIS website.
When you are ready to submit your work permit application, you should assemble the completed Form I-765, payment for the filing and biometric services fees, and all the required supporting documents into an application packet. We recommend that you include a cover letter that lists all that you have in the packet. Feel free to use this sample cover letter as a guide.
This USCIS service center to mail your application to will depend on where you live. You can see a full list of USCIS service centers and where to send your application on the USCIS website.
To learn more about the work permit application process, check out our step-by-step guide to applying for a work permit. We can also help you apply for your asylum work permit for free.
It usually takes 2.5-5 months to get an asylum work permit. However, policy changes and the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have caused a major backlog at different USCIS service centers processing times vary significantly from center to center. You can get a good idea of what yours should be by using the USCIS processing time tool on their website.
When USCIS receives your asylum work permit application, they will send you a receipt notice about 2 to 3 weeks later. You can track your application's status by entering the receipt number from that notice into the USCIS online case status tracker.
If it has been longer than their estimated processing timeframes and you haven’t heard back from USCIS, you can submit an online case inquiry or contact the USCIS service center processing your case.
If USCIS approves your work permit application, they will mail your EAD to the address you provided on your application.
Your new EAD will be the size of an I.D. card. In addition to other identifying information, the front of the card will have an expiration date. You cannot work in the U.S. after that expiration date. You should plan to renew your work permit well before the expiration date if your asylum application is still pending.
If your asylum application is approved, and you decide to renew your EAD, you can do so under the asylee eligibility category. You can also eventually apply for a Green Card if USCIS approves your initial application for asylum. The Green Card will function as both an I.D. and a work permit.
If USCIS denies your application, it would be a good idea to get an immigration lawyer's help to open a motion with USCIS to reconsider the denial. There are many lawyers, law firms, and legal aid agencies that may be able to help you even if you can't afford their normal fees. You can find free or low-cost legal services on the USA.gov website.
If you are interested in reading more about the work permit application process, check out our comprehensive EAD filing guide.
We hope you found our guide on getting a U.S. work permit as an asylum seeker useful. Working with a good immigration attorney can make your immigration process easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government.
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