Asylum seekers can now apply for work permits online!
Last updated on March 17, 2023
Asylum seekers can now apply for a work permit online with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)! ASAP members won this change after many months of advocating.
Continue reading to learn more about the online work permit application (Form I-765).
Should I apply for my work permit online?
Maybe! There are advantages to applying online. You may get your work permit faster by applying online. Your application will arrive faster because it will not have to travel by mail. Also, the online system will immediately confirm that you filed your work permit application, and will send you a notice when USCIS makes a decision.
However, if you are applying to renew your work permit and you were planning to submit a request for a fee waiver instead of paying the $410 fee, you will need to apply by mail. Unfortunately, you cannot submit a fee waiver request online at this time.
Whether you apply online or by mail, the rules to get a work permit as an asylum seeker are the same. For example, you must still wait at least 150 days after filing your asylum application before you can apply for your work permit.
What are the steps to file my work permit application online?
- Go to this USCIS webpage.
- Scroll down to “I-765 | Application for Employment Authorization” and click “File Online.”
- Log in to your existing USCIS Online Account or create a new one.
- Follow the steps online to complete your application. Unfortunately, the application can only be completed in English.
- Review your application carefully before you click submit. See more information below!
- After you submit your asylum application, check your USCIS account frequently for important notices about the status of your application.
What special information should I know to complete my work permit application online?
Most questions in the online work permit application are identical to the paper application. You can watch this video for detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to fill out the paper work permit application. You can also find information about the work permit process here.
However, there are some differences for the online application:
- Category: If you are applying for a work permit because you have a pending asylum application, instead of writing (c)(8) like you would on the paper form, you will choose (c)(8) from a menu in the section “Basis of Eligibility”:
- “Place of Arrival”: You will need to choose from a long drop-down menu. You may find your place of arrival listed on documents that you received when you entered the United States. If you are unsure or cannot find the information, you can choose “Unknown”.
- “Status at last arrival”: You will need to choose from another long drop-down menu.
- If you did not use a visa to enter the United States, you can choose “AO – Asylee Applicant Without Work Authorization.”
- If you entered the United States on parole or a specific type of visa (such as a B2 tourist visa or F1 student visa), choose that from the list.
- If you do not know what your status was when you last arrived in the US, you can choose “UN – Unknown, None, Or Not Reported.”
- “What is your current immigration status or category?”: If you submitted an asylum application and you do not also have another immigration status, you can choose “999 – Alien Awaiting Decision of Asylum.”
- Evidence categories: You must upload evidence in the online form. The online application has specific instructions about file sizes and file names. You can also submit more evidence after you submit your asylum application. Read more about evidence below.
- If a question does not apply to you or you do not know the answer: If a question does not apply to you, write or choose “N/A – Not applicable”. If you do not know an answer, write or choose “Unknown”. If you do not answer a required question, the system will alert you when you reach the “Review and Submit” section. You can then go back and answer.
Is there a fee to apply for a work permit online?
- To apply for your first work permit as an asylum seeker, you do NOT have to pay any application fee, whether you are filing by mail or online.
- To renew your work permit as an asylum seeker online, you must pay the $410 fee by credit card, debit card, prepaid card, or bank account withdrawal. The cost is the same if you file by mail. However, when you file by mail, if you cannot afford the $410 fee, you also have an option to request a fee waiver. Unfortunately, you cannot apply for a fee waiver online at this time.
What evidence do I need to include with my online work permit application?
These categories of evidence are required for all asylum seekers:
- 2 x 2 photo of you: With a paper application, you must submit two printed passport-size photos. Online, you upload digital photos. Follow the photo format instructions carefully.
- Employment Authorization Document (or another government ID with photo): If you already have a work permit card (Employment Authorization Document), upload it here. If you not have a work permit card, upload a passport or other government ID that includes your name and photo. If the passport or government ID is not in English, include a translation of the ID and a certificate of translation.
- Form I-589: Here you must provide evidence of submitting your asylum application at least 150 days ago. For example, you could upload a receipt notice from USCIS, or the stamped first page of your I-589 asylum application plus a copy of your next hearing notice in the immigration court. You may upload multiple documents.
There are other types of evidence that are not required for everyone:
- ASAP membership card: If you are an ASAP member, you may want to include your ASAP membership card. Your ASAP membership card is not required but it may be helpful in the future. You can upload it in any of the evidence categories.
- Categories that may not apply to you: Some of the evidence categories, such as BIA Remand Order or Criminal History may not apply to you. You do NOT have to upload evidence in the categories that do not apply to you.
- However, when you click “Next” without uploading anything, you will see this message:
- You can click “Next” again to continue with your application. It should not delay your application if the category does not apply to you. ASAP has asked USCIS to fix this confusing message.
- If you have questions about whether a category applies to you, you may want to speak with an immigration attorney.
- Form I-94 or passport: Some people receive a Form I-94 when they enter the United States. If you do not have a Form I-94, you can upload a copy of the page of your passport showing your photo, plus any pages with stamps. If you do not have Form I-94 or a passport, you can click “Next”. You will see the same warning as above, but can click “Next” again.
Can I still file by mail if I do not want to file my work permit application online?
Yes! You can watch this video for instructions, and find more information at this section of ASAP’s website.
Note: This information is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.