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Can I Get Employment Authorization When I File for Asylum?

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In short, an asylum applicant CANNOT get employment authorization at the time that they apply for asylum. Employment authorization can be applied for on the one-year anniversary of completion of an application for asylum (that is, completion of a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal). Further, work authorization is automatically granted when asylum is granted.

Please note that prior to the Trump administration, asylum applicants could file for work authorization after 150 days. Due to ongoing litigation in Casa v. Mayorkas, applicants who have waited 150 days since the date of filing for asylum, are still eligible to file for work authorization. You may join the Casa class action here.

Note that there are now special rules with respect to applicants who filed their asylum applications on or after August 25, 2020. For those applicants, an application for employment authorization MUST be filed on the one-year mark. If the application for employment authorization is filed late, then the employment authorization application will be denied unless an asylum officer or immigration judge determines that the applicant meets an exception for late filing or unless the applicant was an unaccompanied alien child on the date the asylum application was first filed. See 8 CFR 208.7(a)(1)(iii)(F).

Note that there are ALSO special rules with respect to asylum applicants who were aliens who entered or attempted to enter the United States at a place and time other than lawfully through a U.S. port of entry on or after August 25, 2020. For such applicants, no work authorization will be granted unless the following was done at or shortly after the the time of entry:

  • The asylum applicant presented himself or herself without delay, but no later than 48 hours after the entry or attempted entry, to officials of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS")
  • Indicated to the officials of the DHS an intention to apply for asylum or expresses a fear of persecution or torture and
  • Had good cause for the illegal entry or attempted entry, provided such good cause does not include the evasion of U.S. immigration officers, convenience, or for the purpose of circumvention of the orderly processing of asylum seekers at a U.S. port of entry

See 8 CFR 208.7(a)(1)(iii)(G).

Assuming that the asylum applicant meets the new special rules related to August 25, 2020, to obtain permission to work in the United States, an asylum applicant must file a Form I-765 ("Application for Employment Authorization). As described in this fact sheet from the USCIS, to be eligible to receive employment authorization based on a pending asylum application, the following conditions must be met:

  • You appeared for any scheduled biometric services appointments related to your application for asylum or employment authorization
  • You appeared for your interview with a USCIS asylum officer, or your hearing before an immigration judge, if requested or scheduled
  • There is no delay in your asylum application caused by you
  • No final decision has been made on your asylum application -- as noted, approval grants automatic work authorization; if your asylum application is denied, you will not be approved for work
  • You are not a person with crime-related or other disqualifiers as described in 8 CFR 208.7(a)(1)(iii) such as having been convicted of "any aggravated felony" here in the US or elsewhere or a "particularly serious crime"

If approved, your work authorization will typically be for a period of two years and can be renewed in two-year increments. If your application for asylum is denied, your work authorization will be terminated. If your application for asylum is granted, then your work authorization will continue, but will be unnecessary since, as noted, a grant of asylum automatically grants work authorization.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.

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