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.]

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Kc May 28, 2017 at 1:46 am

Hi Jason,
i just got my first EAD. How do I know the place where I will have asylum interview? Is it showed in receipt from the asylum office or in the place I live In? Thanks

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 28, 2017 at 6:57 am

You can find your asylum office if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator and enter your zip code. Take care, Jason

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Misho May 26, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Hey jason please i need to know the documents needed to renew my EAd I’m an asylum applicant pending !
And is it really gonna be renewed for two years ?
Thanks in advance

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 28, 2017 at 6:32 am

It will be renewed for 2 years. I cannot give specific advice about documents you need, but the instructions to the I-765 (available at http://www.uscis.gov) list the documents needed. Take care, Jason

Reply

Tasmia Urmi May 26, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Hello, Jason! I’m an asylee and I’ve been in the USA for 1yr and 10months under the asylum category. I applied for the green card almost 8months ago and still haven’t heard from them. My EAD is about to expire prior to July 20th, 2017. I was wondering how I can apply for the EAD renewal. And also do I have to pay a renewal fee? Thank you so much!

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 26, 2017 at 4:58 pm

You do have to pay a renewal fee if you apply based on the asylum status (unless it is your first EAD from asylum approved). You can apply for a fee waiver if you want, using form I-907, available at http://www.uscis.gov. If you already paid for the green card (the I-485), you should be able to get an EAD based on the pending green card application by using the I-485 receipt in lieu of paying the fee. Sometimes, this does not work, but it should work (but only for the first EAD based on green card pending). Take care, Jason

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Valentin May 26, 2017 at 8:29 am

Hey Jason, hey brothers
I would like to know something please.
If your asylum application is pending, and you decide to get marry with an American citizen. What’s the impact on your case and do you have to do before and after the marriage?

Thks

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 26, 2017 at 4:50 pm

If you are eligible to adjust status, you can get your green card through the marriage and then close your asylum case. You do not have to do that – you can continue your asylum case if you prefer, and the asylum office will give you a decision. Take care, Jason

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Valentin May 27, 2017 at 4:41 pm

I don’t really have the choice ! My girl friend wants me to marry her as soonest is possible . Do i need a lawyer for all that!? Or i can do it by myself ?
Thks

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 28, 2017 at 6:49 am

It’s up to you – look at the forms (starting with the I-130 and I-485, but there a number of others that go with those forms) and see if you want to do it without a lawyer. A lawyer makes it easier, but you have to pay for that service. Good luck, Jason

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Valentin May 28, 2017 at 7:52 am

Thks

Arahad May 25, 2017 at 10:51 pm

Hi Jason
I had applied my assylum case in January and I still not receive my biometric. My 180 days will be completed in June.

Reply

Arahad May 26, 2017 at 12:05 am

Corrected… 150 days will complete in June 2017

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Jason Dzubow May 26, 2017 at 6:31 am

If you received the receipt, you should be ok. But contact your local asylum office and ask them about biometrics. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

Reply

BFardin Ibrahim May 24, 2017 at 2:14 am

Hii mr jason I complete 150 days and I fill for I 765 and subbmit to uscis on 4th aprill they receive it !! But till today I didnt receive my ead but I received receipts so any idea
Thnk you

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 25, 2017 at 6:21 am

We see such applications taking 2 to 4 months, so you should get it relatively soon. Take care, Jason

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BFardin Ibrahim May 25, 2017 at 9:42 am

Thank you sir

Reply

mr djib May 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm

fardin ibrahim
I submit on 21 March and they received on 28 March 2017 but not update still saying ¨cäse received ¨

Reply

BFardin Ibrahim May 27, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Hii
So its most probably it has to be 3 month right oow we have to wait more

Vijji May 23, 2017 at 11:50 pm

My name vijaya.my fingerprints done.immigration interview letter when did we get.

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Jason Dzubow May 25, 2017 at 6:16 am

If you check the link at right called Asylum Office Scheduling Bulletin, it gives you some idea about the dates for interviews. Take care, Jason

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Khan May 23, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Hi,
I am an asylum seeker. I filed my case from New York (meaning I lived in New York when I filed my case).

Few days ago I received EAD for 2 years. Is EAD sufficient to start a job, or do I have to obtain a social security number before starting work?

Thanks & Regards

DA Khan

Reply

SCOPA May 23, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Dear Khan,
No, you need to have your social security number. It will take about one week to get!

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 10:15 pm

You probably need the SSN, which you can get at the local social security office. Take care, Jason

Reply

BFardin Ibrahim May 27, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Hii khan
How long it tooks you to get your ead card after you send form for aplication for EAD

Reply

Suzy May 22, 2017 at 8:06 pm

My fiance applied for asylum, but we are getting married. Can he add me to his asylum case and can I get a work permit jyst like he would? I have been is US for 17 years, illegally.

Thanks

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 9:53 pm

Once you are legally married, he should be able to add you to his case and you should be able to get the work permit at the same time as him. Contact the local asylum office for instructions about how to add yourself to his case. You can find their contact info of you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Kamal May 22, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Does USCIS issues the advance parole on asylum applicants or they just deny

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 9:52 pm

They can issue it, though you need to give a “humanitarian” reason for seeking AP, such as visiting a sick relative. Take care, Jason

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Hardy May 22, 2017 at 12:10 am

I have work permit from asylum and I get married when I checked the case number they tell me my case is now pending wait for 180 days they going to process me on uscis office can anyone explain me how it’s gonna be or why he so long because it’s almost one year since my wife apply for me.

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 22, 2017 at 6:18 am

Sorry, I do not understand the question. If you have your work permit, I assume you are waiting for your case – are you in court? Take care, Jason

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Maria May 21, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Hello
I am confused because I have pending asylum case ,I have now work authorization for 2 years ,but I got here ilegally across border, Could I work on airport ? I know they check everythink before ,should I take job there or better not ?
thank you

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 22, 2017 at 6:05 am

If they hire you, you can work there. You are legally allowed to work in the US, so as long as you answer all their questions truthfully, they can hire you if they want. Take care, Jason

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Maria May 23, 2017 at 8:30 am

Thank you
They want to to work on airport but I am scared because
I need to do in ID office in airport background checking and Homeland Security office too ,that’s why I really confused ,even I have work authorization ,should I go through this?
Thank you

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Jason Dzubow May 23, 2017 at 10:05 pm

If you gave your true name and info on the asylum application and EAD, I doubt there is any problem applying for the job. If you lied on the asylum application, it might show up on the airport background check (and it might cause real problems for your asylum case too – so you hopefully you did not do that). Take care, Jason

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larry Ade May 21, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Hi Jason,
from previous posts i saw a post from SCOPA about checking his EAD status online. That his online also told him that his card is being prepared.
And my question is, can someone check EAD status online and how?

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Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 8:19 pm

You need your EAD receipt number, and you can check the status at http://www.uscis.gov. Take care, Jason

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Larry May 22, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Thank you Jason. I really appreciate…

Reply

Jay May 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

Hello,

I applied for an asylum and have a ssn number from my previous visas. May I work on this ssn number until I get an EAD, I know that it takes 150 days until I am able to apply for it.

Reply

Jason Dzubow May 21, 2017 at 8:18 pm

Probably not, unless you have permission to work aside from the asylum-pending EAD. Once you have the EAD, you can work legally. Take care, Jason

Reply

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