USCIS Increases Validity of Work Permits to Two Years for Asylum Applicants

Effective October 5, 2016, USCIS has increased the validity period for initial or renewal Employment Authorization Documents for asylum applicants from one year to two years. Applicants with pending asylum claims file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, under category (c)(8). This change applies to all (c)(8)-based applications that are pending as of October 5, 2016 and all such applications filed on or after October 5, 2016.

What does this mean?

Every year applicants with pending asylum cases had to renew their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) or work permits while waiting for the Asylum Office to schedule their individual interviews because these Work Permits were valid for only 1 year at a time. After this announcement, all pending and future work permit applications as well as applications renewals will be valid for two years. This requirement was undoubtedly a huge inconvenience to those it affected – some clients would get laid off pending approval, driver licenses also had to be annually renewed, and a host of other secondary inconveniences. Additionally, there was a filing fee requirement of at least $380.

Why is the USCIS doing this?

Ideally, USCIS rationalized that it would not take more than a year to schedule a given asylum interviewed. However, due to excessive backlogs – see Asylum-Interview-Scheduling-Bulletin-USCIS, the USCIS has wisened up and is now extending the validity of these work permits for 2 years. Additionally, as of December 2014 the USCIS

On December 26, 2014, we began prioritizing asylum applications for interview scheduling as follows:

1.) Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS;

2.) Applications filed by children; and

3.) All other pending affirmative asylum applications in the order they were received, with oldest cases scheduled first.

This bulletin (updated monthly  here) explains how the Asylum Division prioritizes the adjudication of affirmative applications for asylum.

Check out our other articles on Asylum.