Work Permits for Asylum Seekers—Some Good News

by Jason Dzubow on January 25, 2017

The new Administration has raised anxieties in immigrant and asylum seeker communities. In part, this is because of President Trump’s rhetoric (and rhetorical style) during the election. And in part, it’s because we just don’t know what to expect from a Trump Administration. Rumors have been flying: Will there be some sort of Muslim ban? Will the President repeal DACA? Or will he (and Congress) create a permanent legalization for DACA recipients? Mr. Trump will be issuing some executive orders later today banning Syrian and other refugees from coming to the U.S., and restricting visas for people from certain Middle Eastern countries. How this will all play out, we shall see.

Filling gaps is a good thing.

But amidst the uncertainty, there is some good news related to work permits—or Employment Authorization Documents (“EADs”)—for asylum seekers.

First, last fall, the government started issuing two-year EADs instead of one-year EADs to people with pending asylum cases. This was a helpful development. It saves money since applicants now only have to apply for a new card every other year. It also makes it easier to obtain and retain employment, since employers feel more confident hiring people who have a longer period of authorized employment. In addition, many states issue driver’s licenses that correspond to the dates on the EAD, so a two-year card means a two-year license. All this helps ease the wait for people seeking asylum.

Second, last week the government issued new (and long anticipated) regulations “to help prevent gaps in employment authorization”:

DHS is providing for the automatic extension of expiring EADs (and underlying employment authorization, if applicable) for up to 180 days with respect to individuals who are seeking renewal of their EADs (and, if applicable, employment authorization) based on the same employment authorization categories under which they were granted.

This means that when you file to renew your EAD, your card will be automatically extended for 180 days once you receive the receipt (it usually takes three or four weeks to get the receipt). This is an important development, since USCIS has been taking months to process EAD renewals, and people were losing their jobs and driver’s licenses while they waited for their new EADs.

The automatic EAD extensions apply to refugees, people with asylum, and people who have pending asylum or withholding of removal cases, among others. You can see the new regulations here (see page 82491, the second to last page of the PDF) and here (page 82455, footnote 98, which lists the categories of people eligible for the automatic EAD extension).

Also, remember that you can apply for a new EAD up to 120 days before the old card expires. Even with the most recent change, it is still a good idea to apply early for your new card, so you receive the replacement EAD as soon as possible.

And here’s one last tip for today. If you cannot afford to pay for the new EAD (fees recently went up), you can request a fee waiver from USCIS, which—if granted—allows you to obtain a new EAD without paying the fee. To apply for a fee waiver, use form I-912, available here.

I have written many times about the affirmative asylum backlog. It has been a real disaster for asylum seekers—especially those separated from their family members. The recent changes to the EAD process, during the waning days of the Obama Administration, have at least made one aspect of the wait easier, and for that, we can be thankful.

[Update 03/27/17: USCIS has published a helpful summary of the categories eligible for the automatic extension here. They also created a useful Fact Sheet, available here.]

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

mr djib April 23, 2017 at 11:10 pm

hi Jason
I m back again, I have a question
uscis received my case on 28 based on asylum pending than I find that I think my lawyer submit the visa front page only not the passport, so is gonna delay my ead or they can use as front visa page or is that anyway can I mail to them without asking me
thank you

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Stone mike April 23, 2017 at 6:02 pm

I received a notice for 180 days extension. Am I able to renew my drivers license with the notice it self or do I need to wait for my renewed card to arrive. I live in Louisiana. I figured dmv’s handle this cases different in each state but i was hoping if you had any I info on this matter. Logically I think every state should; being that one wouldn’t be able to go back and forth to work and not have a drivers license. Otherwise it’s ironic and kind of pointless to have an extension. Anyways I would greatly appreciate it if you have any input. Thanks a lot.

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lody April 20, 2017 at 8:03 pm

first thanks jason for your great effort and i just wannna give hope to everybody who plan to renew there EAD ,my case am asylum pending and my first EAD which is one year is about to expired on May 01 2017 , and i applied for my first renew on March 13 2017 then i got my recipet on March 19 it shows 180 autmatic extend , and on 15 April 2017 i got my EAD approval letter for 2 year and today April 20 i got my card , so whole process was 5 weeks ,was Texas office , i just wanna share my experment and wish you all good luck ,

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Simon April 20, 2017 at 11:56 pm

My question is that did you pay any fee because i have similar situation with yours but i submitted in March 30th 2017 for EAD renewal, i am yet to receive receipt notification till now but i did not pay any fee. Please assist me by telling me how it is done please, thanks

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 6:23 am

Normally for a renewal, you have to pay the fee or request a fee waiver (form I-912, available at http://www.uscis.gov). Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 6:17 am

Thank you for letting us know. It is nice to hear good news, Jason

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abhi April 21, 2017 at 8:21 am

Jason
@LODY mention above that she go the EAD approval letter for two years.
1. Does the automatic extension apply only if we get the approval letter or the receipt will also work?
2. For me it is more than 90 days and just got the receipt and still waiting for the card.

Thank You

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 3:11 pm

1 – The receipt automatically extends the period when you can work. 2 – That is slow, but hopefully the EAD will be processed in the normal time frame (2 to 4 months after filing) and so maybe you will get it soon. Take care, Jason

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Genesis April 20, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Hi- I have a question regarding renewal of my driver’s license with the Automatic Extension. My employer would be able to E-verify that I am eligible for an extension, but would my DMV be able to do the same? And can I use the I-797C along with my current EAD to renew my driver’s license?

Thank you!

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 6:15 am

Different states (and offices) seem to behave differently. We are hearing that people can extend the DL based on the automatic extension, but you will have to go to your DMV and see what happens. Take care, Jason

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abhi April 21, 2017 at 8:31 am

My experience last week, i went to DMV with my EAD and receipt notice. They just ask me did you already apply for new EAD and renew my licence for 1 year.

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Jason Dzubow April 21, 2017 at 3:11 pm

That is good news. What state are you in?

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Abhi April 23, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Nebraska

EL Johnson April 23, 2017 at 5:48 am

Hey,
The USCIS approved my EAD since April 5, but i still don’t get it until now. I am little bit confuse about this situation. Do I need to call them to figure out?

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EL Johnson April 22, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Hey,
I was granted my EAD since April 5, and I still don’t get it and I am little bit confuse about it. Do I need to call USCIS for that?

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abhi April 19, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Hello Jason,

I had applied for my EAD RENEWAL on Jan 2nd 2017 under pending asylum and it is already 90 days and it is going to expire next week. I called the customer service and did service request last week but still i didn’t get any response from them.

I will be terminate from the job if i don’t get the card in hand by next week. Just checked online and found some link saying that it will automatically extend for 180 days for pending asylum category(c08) if we have filed before the expire date of EAD.

1. Is this true, does it apply for the pending asylum status or this will apply only for the TPS status.
2. If it apply for asylum pending status too, how the employer will verify that, what are the things that we need to provide to our employer.
3. Is there any way, we can verifiy ourself?

Thank you so much for you help and Support for the people like us.

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Jason Dzubow April 20, 2017 at 6:25 am

1 – This applies to you. There are links at the end of the above article to the USCIS website that confirms this – you can show that to your employer. 2 – See 1; the links above (and there are several) all confirm this. 3 – See 1 and 2. Take care, Jason

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Alex April 19, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Please add me to your email list

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Jason Dzubow April 20, 2017 at 6:22 am

I am not sure what this means – this blog does not have an email list, though you can follow it on Facebook. Take care, Jason

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Erkan April 18, 2017 at 5:44 am

Hi Jason,
My asylum case is pending as of Feb 13, 2017. On August, 2017 I will start ph.d. education. The university offered me Graduate Assistanship however I am worried about my working permit. You already said that once I file my EAD form, it will take 2-4 months. In my case, I will not get my work permit until August 2017. As an asylum seeker, is it possible to obtain student visa provided by the university to be able to work as an assistant?(my current visa is revoked right after I filed my asylum application). Thank you.

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Jason Dzubow April 18, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Normally, visas are not revoked upon filing for asylum. Are you sure it was revoked? If not, maybe you can try to change status to F-1 (despite the asylum, it might still work). Otherwise, you should talk to the school to see whether they can help you. It’s not impossible that you will have the EAD by August, but it is pretty unlikely. Maybe they can allow you to start based on your asylum pending status, or if you need the EAD, maybe they can allow you to audit classes until you have it. If nothing else works, you should be able to start in Spring 2018, if they allow that. Take care, Jason

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Erkan April 18, 2017 at 11:26 pm

My visa is revoked but I forgot to tell you that it is not about filing my asylum application, it is about my “duration of status”.
Thanks for your suggestions. I will follow your recommendations and discuss my situation with the university.
Take care.

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Beshah April 18, 2017 at 12:37 am

Dear Jason,

I am in the US on F1 status. I also work at the university part- time. My wife applied for derivative asylum status for me and I got approved on March 22. I applied for EAD and I got I-797C notice of receipts stating that the received date of application is on March 31 and the notice date is April 8. I notified my school about my status change but they told me to come back when I get the EAD, so that they can change my status in the system.

My question is:- will it be a problem for me to continue working at the university until the EAD arrives? I work at the university because I have DHS authorization to work up to 20 hours a week as a student. Since I have changed my status to asylee? should I stop working until I get the EAD based on asylum approval? Or is it OK for me to continue working?

Thank you so much.

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Jason Dzubow April 18, 2017 at 5:52 pm

I am not sure. However, if the university allows you to keep working, I do not know that there is any harm for you to do so. Even if a person work and lives illegally in the US, he can get asylum status as a derivative. If you are worried about this, talk to a lawyer and maybe they can look into the specifics, or – since it involves the F-1 visa – you can ask the school to help, as the schools generally have knowledge about such visas. Take care, Jason

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Jappan April 17, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Hi Jason!!! Me and my husband have EDA which is going to expire in 08 Aug 2017 when is the right time to renew our EDA. And its on pending asylum.

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Jason Dzubow April 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm

I advise my clients to file 120 days before the EAD expires. I believe the I-765 website says you can file 180 days before it expires, but that is relatively new. Take care, Jason

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mr djib April 17, 2017 at 12:42 am

hi Jason
I was wondering to ask you a question about ead
so mine was received on 28 march 2017 .so as I seen on your comment people wait time is 2 to 4 month.
so the question; 1 how they approve the case is that after pending asylum on 180 day which is today my 180 or after 30 days they received the I 765?
2 can I raise SR on 1 may by a job offer or wait?
thank you

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Jason Dzubow April 17, 2017 at 6:44 am

1 – I was estimating the 2 to 4 months from the date the I-765 is received. 2 – I do not know what SR means. Take care, Jason

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Rabis April 13, 2017 at 12:49 am

Hey jason
I wrote a mail regarding my notice for biometrics which i was supposed to receive 2-3 weeks earlier but they replied saying they have already mailed out to the correct adress. What should I do now ? Will they send it again to me?

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Jason Dzubow April 13, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Contact the local asylum office and ask them about that – maybe they can help. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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ET April 11, 2017 at 10:05 am

Hi Jason
I filed for my EAD on 23rd Feburary the USCIS office of PA recieved it on 25th Feb and they put a notification of recieved on my i-797c notice of action which indicates C08 eligibility form on 27th of Feburary 2017. This notice of action got recieved around 12th Feburary 2017 Well I received a mail in my email saying your case has been accepted and directed to Nebraska Service Centre for processing, can you kindly tell me what does this means? As I have a asylum pending case and it’s been 45 days already my i-765 been received. Can you tell me when should i expect my EAD ? And what is the possible reason for delay in my case?

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Jason Dzubow April 12, 2017 at 3:19 pm

USCIS moves cases around depending on its work load. It has no meaning. Most people get the EAD between 2 and 4 months after they file for it, so hopefully, you will have yours soon. Take care, Jason

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mr djib April 15, 2017 at 2:58 am

hi ET

have you get any update from the uscis

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Theresa Williams April 10, 2017 at 11:40 pm

Hi sir my name is Theresa Williams I had filed my asylum case in may 2016 I got a first letter in July 30 2016 and we did our fingerprints in august 2nd 2016 still now no sign , we waited till January end and 2nd of February We applied for work authorization so far I didn’t receive any response from immigration office I am very much tens my kids are minor they are studing in school will I have any problem please reply
Thank you so much

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Jason Dzubow April 12, 2017 at 3:13 pm

It normally takes 2 to 4 months after you file for the work permit to get it. You can get an idea about the waiting time for your asylum case if you check the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Shriju April 9, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Hi jason’
i applied for asylum but not approved yet,so what is my current status to file tax? I came in US in J1 status, j1 status was till november and i applied in September. is that ok to mention i applied in September in tax form even my visa was till november. Thank you so much for your help

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Jason Dzubow April 12, 2017 at 1:27 pm

I do not know what your status is for tax purposes. If you are still here on your J-1 and still engaged in the J-1 activity, then your immigration status is J-1. If your J-1 is finished or you are no longer a J-1 student/worker, then your only status is asylum pending, but I do not know how that should be entered on your tax documents. Maybe discuss with an accountant. Take care, Jason

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Asylum seeker April 17, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Dear Shriju,
You can mention like J1 untill—-, and then asylum pending from—–. That’s it.
Good luck!

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zenny April 7, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Thank you so much for your articles and for answering to our problems freely and out of your kindheartedness.
I applied for EAD renewal and sent a $410 check. My application was returned with a rejection notice saying “payment amount is incorrect or has not been provided.” At the instruction of USCIS customer service, I again sent a check of $495 ($410+$85 biometrics fee). But it returned again with same above reason. Could you please advice on what could be wrong in my submission of I-765 and what I can do next?
Thanks so much and God bless!

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Jason Dzubow April 7, 2017 at 5:00 pm

I am not sure. The fee for an EAD renewal based on asylum should be $410. I recommend you call them to ask. You can find the number at http://www.uscis.gov. If you resend it, maybe print the copy of the I-765 instructions that say the fee amount and highlight it or circle it, so the people at USCIS see it. You might also write “Previously rejected improperly – Please give to a supervisor” on a piece of paper and put it on top of the packet. But call them first and see whether they can give you an explanation. Good luck, Jason

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zenny April 7, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Thank you so much for your prompt response and helpful advice. I will circle/highlight the fee next time from the I-756 instructions and will call. I will also include copies of both rejected/incorrect amount $410 and 490.
Thank you and may god bless you and your family always.

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Jason Dzubow April 9, 2017 at 8:13 am

Let us know what happens – Good luck, Jason

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Jerry Peter April 5, 2017 at 11:40 pm

Hello Jason, I am an asylum seeker. If my attorney denied the judge’s offer of the earliest available court date and request for more time, without knowing it can affect my EAD clock, what can i do & how can I resolve this issue or can I go ahead and apply for EAD as the time is up to 180 days and how can I renew my I-94 Card, with lack of knowledge regarding the fact that I can work with it? Thank you.

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Jason Dzubow April 7, 2017 at 6:26 am

If your attorney did not accept the first court date, and your asylum clock is currently less than 180 days, you cannot apply for a work permit and your clock will not start until your next hearing date. I suppose your attorney can ask to move your next hearing date forward, but otherwise, there is not much you can do. Some people can get a work permit using the I-94 if they have humanitarian parole. You have to renew that at the local ICE office, and whether they will renew it is anyone’s guess. They used to, but it seems like they are not doing it so easily these days. Take care, Jason

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Sorel April 3, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Hi Jason,
First of all thank you for your hard work, you are really helping a lot of us Thanks. I have be “asylum pending” for more than 150 and I wanna fill out my I-765, my question is: can I fill it on my own? because my attorney will charge me more money if he does it.my second question is as an asylum pending do I need to mail my I-765 with 2photo(passport style)? or only with a copy of the receipt of my I-589? Can I leave blank spaces for questions that do not apply for me on the I-765? My last question is what order document can I submit the I-765 with? I am looking forward to an answer.
thank you.

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Jason Dzubow April 4, 2017 at 10:47 am

You can fill it out on you own. Maybe let the attorney know you will do that, so you will both be on the same page. As for the other questions, I cannot answer such specifics. If you carefully review the instructions for the I-765, you should be able to find those answers. Take care, Jason

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Becky March 31, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Dear Jason,
I am a dependant in my parents asylum application. In two months, I am additionally receiving my I20 to go to university as an F1 student. Do you think I am eligible to apply for a work permit? And if so, would this affect my student status? Would it have any effect whatsoever in my future visa procedures after I finish college. Also, If i work on campus, The university will apply for a social security number for me. Will i be able to have two social security numbers simultaneously! Thanks

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Jason Dzubow April 3, 2017 at 1:41 pm

If you have a work permit based on your parents’ asylum, you can work lawfully. However, I am not sure whether you will be eligible to get an F-1 visa if you have an asylum case pending. Student visas require that you leave after your studies; asylum is an application to stay permanently, so these two paths are in conflict. You should ask the school. If you already have the F-1 visa, then being an asylum dependent should not cause you to lose F-1 status. In any case, you should only have one SS number – you would have to talk to the Social Security office about that. Take care, Jason

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EL Johnson March 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Hi Sir,
my asylee EAD was received since february january 30. I only get the first notification and I still don’t get my EAD. one of my friend received his EAD on 1 month and 2 weeks.
Does something is wrong with my application? or will be denied?
Do I need to call for that?

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Jason Dzubow March 31, 2017 at 6:31 am

I think it is too soon to worry. We normally see EADs take from 2 to 4 months (sometimes, a bit faster like your friend). If you got the receipt, you should get the EAD soon. Take care, Jason

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Cna March 28, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Hi Jason,

If it’s your first time applying for the EAD card through Asylum case, is there any fees involved for that? to my understanding, there should not be any fees involved but if you’ve been on F1 EAD (OPT) and are applying for the Asylum EAD would that change the equation?

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Jason Dzubow March 29, 2017 at 6:21 am

If you are applying for your first EAD based on asylum pending, there is no fee. Otherwise, there may be a fee and you would have to look at the I-765 instructions. Take care, Jason

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Yirgalem Teweldemedhin March 24, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Hi jason,

I had my assylum interview November 2016. And i didnt recieve any Answer. My work permit expired february 2017 .and i have applied for my work permit renewal .they have sent for me the reciept saying that they have recieved my application. Since my case is in pending status ,so what is the relationship with my assylum case and my work permit renewal. I have reached to the immigration office in Arlington to check my case and they told me that my case is in pending for supervisor review. I am very worried . Dear jason please give me with your valuable advice what to do?

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Jason Dzubow March 27, 2017 at 6:21 am

You can continue to renew the work permit as before (your case is still “asylum pending”). Sometimes, people wait many months post-interview for a decision, so you have to remain patient and follow up with the asylum office once in a while. Good luck, Jason

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