How to apply for a work permit online as an asylum seeker

Last updated on March 8, 2024

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.

If you are applying to renew your work permit, it is also less expensive to apply online. As of April 1, 2024, the renewal fee is $470 if you apply online or $520 if you apply by mail.

However, if you are applying to renew your work permit and you plan to submit a request for a fee waiver instead of paying the filing 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?

  1. Go to this myUSCIS webpage. Log in to your existing USCIS Online Account or create a new one. You can watch this USCIS video about how to create an online account.
  2. After logging in, if you are asked to choose between different webpage options, you can choose “myUSCIS” to get to your online account.
  3. Once you are in myUSCIS account page, you can begin your application. If you are using a phone, click “Menu” in the top right corner, click “Account actions,” then click “File a form online.” If you are using a computer, click “My Account” in the top right corner, then click “File a form online.”
  4. Next, select “I-765, Application for Employment Authorization” in the drop down menu. Then click “Start form.”
  5. Follow the steps online to complete your application. Unfortunately, the application can only be completed in English.
  6. Review your application carefully before you click submit. See more information below!
  7. 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:

  • Eligibility 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 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 fee by credit card, debit card, prepaid card, or bank account withdrawal. As of April 1, 2024, the renewal fee is $470 if you apply online or $520 if you apply by mail. However, when you file by mail, if you cannot afford the filing 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 do 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: 

  • 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.

Note: You do NOT need to include your ASAP membership card in your work permit application. However, if you do include your ASAP membership card, it will not negatively affect your work permit application.

Do I need a separate USCIS account to apply online for a work permit for my spouse or child?

Yes. If you want to apply for a work permit online for your spouse or child, each person will need a separate USCIS online account and will need to do a separate work permit application.

If your spouse or child filed their own asylum application, you can apply for their work permit the same way as yours. But if you included your spouse or child on your asylum application, there is additional evidence you should upload in the “I-589″ evidence section of their work permit applications. You can find more information on this page.

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.