Healthcare and childcare workers can ask to receive their work permits faster

Last updated on October 27, 2022

UPDATE: Previously, this process was only available for renewal work permit applications. However, as of October 20, 2022, USCIS is expanding the process to also include initial work permit applications, not just renewal work permit applications. The video above only explains the process for renewal work permit applications. You can read the blog post below for updated information about this process for both initial and renewal work permit applications.

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Good news: if you work in healthcare or childcare, you can ask U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process your work permit application faster. This new process applies to you if (1) you work in healthcare or childcare and (2) you have a pending work permit application. If you are applying for your initial work permit, you must have been waiting for at least 90 days before you ask that your application be processed faster. If you are applying for your renewal work permit, your current work permit must be already expired, or it will expire within 30 days before you ask that your application be processed faster.

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 and childcare workers, lost their jobs because USCIS failed to renew their work permits on 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 and childcare workers to renew their work permits faster. In October 2022, USCIS expanded this process to also include initial work permit applications.

This new process will benefit many asylum seekers who work in healthcare or childcare. But unfortunately this program was not designed to benefit all asylum seekers. Asylum seekers who are not healthcare or childcare workers do not have this same option for faster processing, and they may still experience long delays in receiving their work permits.

ASAP will continue to fight for faster work permits for all asylum seekers. Find the latest updates here. If you are experiencing long delays in your work permit application and you are not a healthcare or childcare worker, please read this resource about possible steps you can take.

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

Can I ask to receive my work permit faster under this new process?

This new process applies to you if (1) you are a healthcare or childcare worker and (2) you have a pending work permit application. The requirements are slightly different for initial and renewal work permit applications. Read below for more details.

(1) You must be a healthcare or a childcare worker.

Are you a healthcare worker?

If you are a healthcare worker, you could be eligible to receive your work permit faster under this process. 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.

Are you a childcare worker?

If you are a childcare worker, you could be eligible to receive your work permit faster under this process. USCIS recognizes you as a childcare worker if you work with children in the following places:

  • Schools
  • Businesses
  • Private Homes
  • Childcare Centers

Unfortunately, preschool teachers and teacher’s assistants are not eligible for this new process, unless they work in special education.

Childcare can include a variety of tasks, including dressing, feeding, bathing, supervising play, and more.

You can find the full definition here, under Section 39-9011, Childcare Workers.

(2) You must have a pending work permit application.

  • If you applied for your initial work permit, USCIS must have received your initial work permit application more than 90 days ago before you ask that your application be processed faster. To find out if you have passed the 90 days, first, find the “Received Date” on your receipt notice. Then, add 90 days to that. (You can google “90 days after [Received Date]” to find out the date you must pass.)
  • If you are renewing your work permit, your current work permit must have already expired, or it will expire in 30 days or less before you ask that your application be processed faster. If you submitted an application to renew your work permit as an asylum seeker, your current work permit is automatically extended for 540 days once you submit the renewal application. To determine the expiration date of your work permit, add 540 days to the expiration date shown on your work permit card.

How do I request to get 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 “healthcare worker,” “childcare worker,” or “InfoPass” when the automated machine asks “How can I help you?” When you reach a representative, explain that you are a healthcare worker or a childcare worker, you have a pending work permit application, and that you want to request that USCIS process your application faster.

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

Be prepared to explain why you believe you are a healthcare worker or childcare worker. In some cases, USCIS may later send you a letter called Request for Evidence, asking you to submit proof of your employment as a healthcare worker or childcare worker.

Before you hang up the phone, ask the representative for a reference number for your request. After the call, you can check your case status by entering the receipt number for your work permit application on this USCIS website. If you do not see any updates after a week, you can call the USCIS Contact Center again, give them the reference number for your request, and ask for an update.

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.