Healthcare workers may be able to renew their work permits faster

January 7, 2022

Good news: if you work in healthcare, you may be able to ask U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process your work permit renewal application faster. This new process applies to you if (1) you work in healthcare, (2) you have a pending work permit renewal application, and (3) your current work permit has already expired, or it will expire within 30 days.

USCIS introduced this new process after ASAP members began to fight back against long delays in receiving their work permit renewals. Many ASAP members, including healthcare workers, lost their jobs because USCIS failed to renew their work permits in time. ASAP members sued USCIS, and ASAP members who work in healthcare spoke to the news about the impact these delays have had on their lives and their patients’ lives. Then, USCIS introduced a new process for healthcare workers to renew their work permits faster.

This new process will hopefully benefit many asylum seekers who work in healthcare.  But unfortunately this program was not designed to benefit all asylum seekers. Asylum seekers who are not healthcare workers do not have this same option for faster processing, and may still experience long delays in receiving their work permit renewals. ASAP will continue to fight for faster work permit renewals for all asylum seekers. If you are experiencing long delays in your work permit renewal and you are not a healthcare worker, please see this resource about possible steps you can take.

This new process was announced in December 2021, and we still do not know exactly how it will work. However, below is the information we currently have about who is eligible and how to make a request for a faster work permit renewal. We will update this post if we learn more!

For more general information about applying for a work permit as an ASAP member, please visit this page.

Am I eligible to renew my work permit faster under this new process?

(1) You must be a healthcare worker. USCIS recognizes many different types of workers as healthcare workers. Some examples include:

  • Physicians, dentists, psychologists, nurses, emergency medical services workers, pharmacists, speech and occupational therapists, social workers, optometrists, chiropractors, and other trained medical professionals.
  • People who provide various services for hospitals and other medical facilities, such as cleaning, food services, security, billing, administrative services, transportation, waste management, and more.
  • People who provide medical care to individuals in their homes.
  • People who do medical research.
  • People who work in public health or environmental health.
  • People who work in factories that manufacture medical supplies and equipment.
  • People who provide services to at-risk populations, such as delivering meals or providing homemaker services to the elderly and disabled.
  • People who provide human services, such as social workers, case managers, and workers at a domestic violence shelter.
  • People who work in telehealth.
  • People who work in the funeral industry.

You can find the full list here, on pages 7 to 9. Please note that USCIS may request proof of your employment.

(2) You must have a pending application to renew your work permit. This process is only for work permit renewals. It does not apply to you if you are applying for your first work permit.

(3) Your current work permit has already expired, or it will expire in 30 days or less. If you submitted an application to renew your work permit as an asylum seeker, your current work permit is automatically extended for 180 days once you submit the renewal application. To determine the expiration date of your work permit, add 180 days to the expiration date shown on your work permit card.

How do I request to renew my work permit faster?

To make this request, you need to call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. To speak to a representative, say “InfoPass” when the automated machine asks “How can I help you?” When you reach a representative, explain that you are a healthcare worker, you have a pending work permit renewal application, and that you want to request that USCIS process your application faster.

Before you make the call, make sure you have your current work permit and your receipt notice for your work permit renewal application. You will need to provide your A number and the receipt number for your work permit renewal application. You may also need to provide the expiration date of your current work permit.

Be prepared to explain what your job is, and why you believe you are a healthcare worker. You should also be prepared to submit proof of your employment. The representative on the phone may provide you with instructions on how to submit this proof.

You do not need an attorney to make this request. However, if you would like legal assistance, you can find help here. If you have more questions, you can also email us at info@asylumadvocacy.org.

Note: This information is for asylum seekers and does not substitute for legal advice from a lawyer.

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