Updates for ASAP members on our efforts to end work permit renewal delays

Last updated on May 4, 2022.

ASAP members: In November of 2021, ASAP filed a lawsuit to end processing delays of work permit renewals. The name of the lawsuit is Tony N. v. USCIS. You can also read more information about the lawsuit here.

ASAP is also trying to solve the issue of work permit renewal delays in several other ways. Here are the latest updates about ASAP’s efforts to end work permit renewal delays:

May 4, 2022 Update

Great news! Starting on May 4, 2022, many asylum seekers can still use their work permits for 540 days after the original expiration date! But you must apply to renew your work permit “on time” to receive this extension.

Beginning on May 4, 2022, USCIS will extend many asylum seekers’ work permits for up to 540 days after the expiration date written on your work permit card. This is an increase from the 180-day auto-extension that was previously in place. To get the 540-day extension, you must apply to renew your work permit before the original expiration date written on your current work permit card.

Read more about this new policy here.

Thank you to all of the ASAP members who fought for this change!

Thousands of ASAP members have told us that government delays and work permits are your two biggest issues of concern. We are so grateful to every member who raised this issue, and who took action to solve this problem. Thanks to you all, we were able to change government policy so that more asylum seekers, asylees, and other immigrants can work in the United States without interruption!

April 12, 2022 Update

Huge victory – work permits will be extended soon

For several months, ASAP members have been fighting to stop work permit renewal delays. Many members shared an idea: what if the government simply made the work permit auto-extension longer? ASAP members asked the government to extend how long their work permits are valid while their renewal applications are pending.

Great news: ASAP members’ advocacy worked! Soon asylum seekers will not lose their job because of renewal processing delays.

On March 29, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will extend asylum seekers’ work permits so that they are valid for a longer period of time while renewal applications are pending. The current auto-extension time period is 180 days.

The government has not yet shared more details about the plan, so we do not know exactly how long the new auto-extension will be or when the government will implement the new policy. We expect that the government will announce more details later this month, and we will then share the information here.

You can read more about this exciting announcement here in CBS News, which features ASAP member Jairo Umaña.

We know thousands of ASAP members have lost their jobs because of these processing delays, and that many more are scared that their work permits will soon expire. Please know that thanks to ASAP members’ advocacy, help is on the way!

March 9, 2022 Update

The judge has dismissed the Tony N. lawsuit. 

On March 2, 2022, the judge dismissed the Tony N. lawsuit. That means there will be no more hearings or decisions in this case. The judge dismissed the lawsuit because the five individual asylum seekers who brought the lawsuit have now received their work permits. We previously asked the judge to also include thousands of other asylum seekers in the case who are still waiting for their renewals, but the judge did not agree to recognize a larger group, or class. You can read the judge’s order dismissing the case here.

The work permit rules have changed, and the government is now required to process many work permit renewal applications in 90 days or less.

We are sad that the lawsuit has now ended. However, since we filed the lawsuit, several work permit rules for asylum seekers have changed. Many of these changes are positive. For example, because of these changes, if an asylum seeker applies to renew a work permit at least 90 days before their current work permit expires, the government is now supposed to make a decision on their renewal application before their current work permit expires.

As a result, we hope that USCIS will begin processing renewal applications much more quickly. If not, we will continue to advocate for faster processing in a number of ways.

This will be the last update on this page, but you can read about all of ASAP’s work to advocate for faster and more accessible work permits here

Thank you for following our work on this lawsuit. We hope that you will continue to learn about and participate in ASAP’s advocacy to make work permits faster and easier for asylum seekers to obtain!

February 2, 2022 Update

ASAP is now trying to solve the issue of work permit renewal delays in several ways. 

ASAP is working with members in several different ways to ensure that all asylum seekers can receive faster work permit renewals. From now on, we will use this page to include updates on all of our work to find a solution to this problem, including the Tony N. lawsuit.

ASAP members won expedited processing of work permit renewals for healthcare workers.

ASAP worked with members who bravely shared their stories with the media to bring more attention to this problem. Many ASAP members who first spoke out in the media were healthcare workers.

In response, USCIS introduced a new process for speeding up work permit renewals for healthcare workers. But this change is just the beginning: ASAP will keep fighting until all asylum seekers are able to renew their work permits before they lose the ability to work legally!

ASAP members are proposing additional creative solutions – for example, increasing the work permit auto-extension – and we are advocating for them!

During the last hearing in the Tony N. lawsuit, ASAP members shared several strategies USCIS could take to make sure that asylum seekers do not lose their jobs due to delays. One member wrote: “Extending the grace period until the final approval/denial would solve the problem without putting extra burden on anyone.”

Currently asylum seekers receive a 180-day auto-extension of their work permit when they submit an application for renewal. Thanks to the strength of our members’ ideas, ASAP is now advocating for USCIS to increase this grace period to one year.

USCIS has asked the judge to dismiss the Tony N. lawsuit, and we are fighting back.

USCIS has asked the judge to dismiss the Tony N. lawsuit. We disagree with USCIS, and we are writing arguments for the judge about why the case should not be dismissed. We will continue to advocate for the ability of all asylum seekers to receive work permit renewals through this lawsuit and in other ways. You can read the most updated case documents here.

All five ASAP members who sued USCIS in the Tony N. case have now received their work permit renewals. 

All five of the ASAP members who sued USCIS in the Tony N. case have now received their work permit renewals. We are grateful to them for their courage in bringing this case, and we are very happy to know they are now able to work! However, we know that many of you are still waiting, and we will do everything we can to fix this issue for all members.

December 23, 2021 Update — This update is still current as of January 12, 2022.

Unfortunately, the judge has issued a negative decision in this case. This decision was an intermediate decision, not a final decision, so the lawsuit could continue in 2022. You can read the full decision here. We are very sorry to share this bad news.

The decision had two parts. First, we told the judge that this issue of slow work permit renewals is an emergency, and we asked the judge to tell USCIS to speed up processing right away. The judge said she does not think the issue is an emergency and she is not ready to tell USCIS to work more quickly at this time.

Second, we asked the judge to let asylum seekers sue the government as one big group, also known as a “class.” We asked for this because we wanted to make sure that any rights won in this lawsuit could be used by all asylum seekers, instead of only applying to the five individuals named in the lawsuit. Unfortunately, the judge did not allow asylum seekers to sue as a group at this time.

We are not finished fighting back against these delays. Many ASAP members attended the hearing on December 17 by phone or computer, and they shared powerful ideas about the best way to solve this problem. Some members asked for automatic extensions of current work permits. Others asked for the government to simplify the process because it is too complicated.

We will continue to fight for faster processing of work permits, both in court and in other ways. We know it is incredibly difficult to exist in this country without a work permit. We are so sorry the judge did not issue a better decision, and we will do everything in our power to fix this problem so that all of our members can work in the United States.

December 16, 2021 Update

You can listen to or watch the court hearing on December 17 by following the instructions below. 

Up to 500 people, including ASAP members, can listen to or watch the court hearing by computer or phone. The hearing will be in English. You will not be asked to speak or say who you are when you join the call.

To listen to the hearing by phone:

  • Call (646) 828-7666.
  • If you are asked to enter a Meeting ID, use this Meeting ID: 160 626 1089.
  • If you are asked to enter a password, use this password: 091644.
  • When you call in, you will be able to hear what is happening, but the court will not be able to see or hear you.

To watch a live video of the hearing on your computer or phone:

  • Before you can join the meeting, you should download the Zoom app on your computer or phone.
  • Click on this link to join the video call: https://cand-uscourts.zoomgov.com/j/1606261089?pwd=Q3k3SEx5WC9BSm1FSWswOWM4bnB3Zz09#success.
  • If you are asked to enter a Meeting ID, use this Meeting ID: 160 626 1089.
  • If you are asked to enter a password, use this password: 091644.
  • When you call in, you will be able to hear and see the hearing, but the court will not be able to see or hear you.

Anyone is allowed to listen to the hearing or watch the hearing. You will not need to provide your name or any personal information. For more information, you can visit the court’s website on attending virtual hearings here: https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/zoom/.

December 8, 2021 Update

ASAP members filed a lawsuit to ask USCIS to process work permit renewal applications more quickly. 

ASAP members told us their ideas for how to change the asylum process, and receiving a work permit faster was one of members’ top priorities. Many ASAP members also contacted us by email to tell us about delays with USCIS renewing their work permits, including members who had been waiting over 10 months. It became clear that ASAP members were ready and willing to fight for their ability to work, and that delays in work permit renewals were a serious issue for many members. We worked with ASAP members to file a lawsuit to end these delays on November 10, 2021! The lawsuit is called Tony N. v. USCIS. You can learn more information about the case at the Tony N. v. USCIS case page.

ASAP members filed 3 documents to start the lawsuit:

  1. Civil Complaint: This document describes the problem and talks about how USCIS has hurt asylum seekers by delaying their work permits.
  2. Motion to Certify Nationwide Class: This document talks about why asylum seekers are suing USCIS as a group and why the court should order USCIS to fix this problem for all asylum seekers, not just a few.
  3. Motion for Preliminary Injunction: This document talks about why the court should resolve this problem as soon as possible.

5 ASAP members bravely shared their stories in order to start the lawsuit. 

There are 5 ASAP members who are currently serving as plaintiffs in this case and suing USCIS. They are hoping that the court will decide that USCIS must process work permit renewal applications faster for all asylum seekers.

ASAP identified these 5 plaintiffs by sending a survey to all ASAP members in October 2021 to ask if they would be interested in participating in the lawsuit. More than 200 members replied to say they were interested in being a plaintiff. ASAP chose 5 plaintiffs from this group based on how much time they could spend on the case, how long their work permit applications had been pending, and other factors.

The plaintiffs are a truck driver from East Africa, a children’s behavioral health therapist from Venezuela, a doctor from Armenia, a computer technician, and a fast food restaurant manager from El Salvador.

ASAP members, including the plaintiffs, have bravely spoken out against these delays. You can read about this case and members’ advocacy in articles in CNN, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg Law.

Thousands of ASAP members shared information about work permit delays to make this lawsuit possible.

Thousands of ASAP members filled out a survey to tell ASAP how long they had waited for USCIS to renew their work permits. Together, the members identified that more than 400 of them had been waiting over 180 days for USCIS to renew their work permits. Almost 200 members said that they had lost their jobs, or would soon lose their jobs, if their work permits were not renewed before their automatic extensions ended. As a result, ASAP was able to show the court what a big problem USCIS has caused.

Many ASAP members signed up to receive extra updates about the lawsuit, and you can sign up to receive extra updates, too.

More than 2,000 members asked to receive extra updates about this lawsuit, in addition to the monthly update that you are reading now. These members were the first to find out when the lawsuit was filed. If you would like to receive extra updates about this lawsuit, you can sign up to receive extra updates here.

If you already receive these extra updates and would like to stop receiving them, you can ask to stop receiving extra updates here.

The judge has scheduled a hearing on December 17, and you can try to listen or watch it. 

The judge has now scheduled a first hearing for the case. At the hearing, we will present our argument about why USCIS must stop the delays, and USCIS will present their argument against us.

We do not know if the judge will make a decision about this case on December 17. However, we hope that she will work quickly to make a decision before the end of December. If the judge agrees with ASAP, she may force USCIS to end the delays. If she does not agree with ASAP, she may not force USCIS to do anything. Whatever happens, we will let you know, and we will keep fighting to make sure work permit renewal applications are processed more quickly.

The court should make it possible for at least 100 people, including ASAP members, to listen to or watch the hearing by computer or phone. The hearing will be in English. We will share more information about how to listen to the hearing on this page on December 16, the day before the hearing. If you are interested, please check this page again on December 16 for details!

We will also text and email members who have signed up for extra updates about this lawsuit. If you have not signed up for these updates but you would like to receive them, you can sign up for extra updates here.

USCIS tried to delay the hearing, but ASAP asked the Court to move faster and the Court agreed with ASAP.

USCIS said they needed to wait until January to have this hearing. ASAP told the judge we disagreed with USCIS because it is important to ASAP members to resolve this case as quickly as possible. The judge agreed with ASAP and scheduled the hearing for December 17!

Thank you to all of the ASAP members who made this lawsuit possible! 

We are grateful for the opportunity to work together to make work permits available for all asylum seekers.