Updates for ASAP Members about Work Permit Advocacy

In 2020, ASAP members filed a lawsuit to stop new rules that limited asylum seekers’ ability to work — and won! Since then, we have continued to fight together for faster and easier work permits.

ASAP members: click on the links below to read each monthly update.

February 14, 2024 Updates

Over 100 groups join ASAP to fight for work permits

ASAP has started a large coalition to advocate for work permits for asylum seekers! ASAP’s work permit coalition includes 119 other nonprofit organizations. It also includes government officials from 4 U.S. cities: Boston, Massachusetts; Denver, Colorado; New York, New York; and Portland, Maine.

Here are the top 3 goals for the coalition, based on ideas from ASAP members:

  1. Fix work permit processing backlogs.
  2. Shorten wait periods to get work permits for asylum seekers.
  3. Extend work permit validity periods.

ASAP’s work permit coalition meets twice a month to explain to other organizations and local governments what they can do to help asylum seekers get work permits faster. ASAP runs this work permit coalition with two other organizations: the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and Refugees International.

We are excited that so many groups, including U.S. cities, are following ASAP members’ lead about how to improve access to work permits!

Processing times for initial work permits and renewals

This month, we are sharing the most recent data on work permit processing that we received from the U.S. government.

The good news is most initial work permits for asylum seekers are still being processed within 30 days. The processing times are similar to what we shared in December.

The bad news is that most work permit renewals for asylum seekers are still taking a long time to be processed: more than 6 months.

You can read more details below.

Unfortunately, after this month, ASAP may not receive this kind of information about work permit processing times from the government. The government is no longer required by a judge or U.S. Congress to provide the information. However, ASAP knows it is important to members, so in February ASAP staff will meet with USCIS to explain why they should still share the information about processing times. We will keep you updated on this page.

Most asylum seekers are receiving initial work permits within 30 days

Thanks to ASAP members’ advocacy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is continuing to process most initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days. ASAP received updated information about initial work permit application processing times through a lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS.

Here are the details:

  • In December 2023, 84,188 asylum seekers received decisions on their initial work permit applications.
    • Of those asylum seekers, 93.2% received a decision about their work permit within the correct 30-day period, and 98.8% received a decision within 60 days.
    • This is similar to November 2023, when 93.5% of initial work permit applications were processed within 30 days.
  • In December 2023, 50,722 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits.
    • Of the asylum seekers who were still waiting, 9,961 had been waiting for more than 30 days.
    • This is an increase from November 2023, when 7,770 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits after 30 days.

ASAP members have worked hard to win these improvements in the processing times for initial work permit applications! In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to make sure that USCIS processes initial work permit applications within 30 days.

Most asylum seekers are waiting more than six months for work permit renewals

Unfortunately, USCIS is still taking a very long time to process work permit renewal applications for asylum seekers. ASAP has received updated information about processing times for work permit renewal applications as of September 30, 2023.

Here are the details:

  • As of September 30, 2023, 160,005 asylum seekers had been waiting 180 days or more for a decision on their work permit renewal applications. That means that 64.9% of asylum seekers have waited 180 days or more for their work permit renewal applications to be processed.
  • USCIS is required to process initial work permits for asylum seekers within 30 days, but there is no legal requirement for USCIS to process work permit renewal applications within a certain time period.

ASAP knows that these renewal delays are unacceptable. Asylum seekers should not be in danger of losing their jobs because the government is delayed in processing work permit renewal applications. That is why ASAP has already demanded that the government extend work permits. We will continue working on this issue and keep you updated on this page.

ASAP members ask for a better fee waiver form

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently asked the public how to improve the I-912 application for a fee waiver. ASAP members responded!

What is a fee waiver?

When someone cannot afford to pay the fee for their application to USCIS, they can submit a request for a fee waiver. Some applications do not have a fee, such as asylum applications and initial work permit applications for asylum seekers. However, other applications do have a fee. For example, many ASAP members have used the fee waiver form to apply for a work permit renewal or to apply for their first work permit under the parole category.

What did ASAP ask for? 

On January 8, 2024, ASAP submitted a document called a “comment” to USCIS. Many ASAP members have shared their ideas about the fee waiver and USCIS forms. ASAP collected these ideas into one document that we sent to USCIS.

ASAP members said that USCIS should:

  • Allow applicants to submit the fee waiver form online.
  • Reduce the number of pages in the fee waiver form.
  • Translate the form into multiple languages.

ASAP also asked USCIS to eliminate work permit application fees for asylum seekers applying for their first work permit under the parole category.

You can read ASAP’s comment here.

What other groups spoke out? 

ASAP asked the State of Colorado and 10 other groups in ASAP’s work permit coalition to also comment on the fee waiver form. Their comments shared ASAP members’ ideas!

You can read their comments and other comments submitted to USCIS on this U.S. government web page.

What is next? 

We hope this will pressure the U.S. government to make changes to the fee waiver form and application process based on ASAP members’ ideas. Thank you to all of the ASAP members who shared their ideas and advocated for change!

December 13, 2023 Updates

Processing times for initial work permits in November

Good news! Thanks to ASAP members’ advocacy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is continuing to process most initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days. ASAP received updated information about initial work permit application processing times through a lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS.

Here are the details:

  • In November 2023, 96,047 asylum seekers received decisions on their initial work permit applications.
    • Of those asylum seekers, 93.5% received a decision about their work permit within the correct 30-day period, and 98.5% received a decision within 60 days.
    • This is an improvement from last month, when 90.4% of initial work permit applications were processed within 30 days.
  • In November 2023, 44,857 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits.
    • Of the asylum seekers who were still waiting, 7,770 had been waiting for more than 30 days.
    • This is an increase from last month, when 5,955 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits after 30 days.

ASAP members have worked hard to win these improvements in the processing times for initial work permit applications! In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to make sure that USCIS processes initial work permit applications within 30 days.

ASAP wins “attorney fees” in the CASA v. Mayorkas case

Several months ago, we shared with you that the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit ended. After 3 years of fighting, ASAP members won everything they had asked for, and USCIS is now processing most initial work permits within 30 days.

Now, ASAP has won $110,000 from the U.S. government to pay for some of the costs of fighting for ASAP members to get their work permits during the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit. These costs are called “attorney fees” and they cover the money spent on filing a lawsuit and fighting in court.

After ASAP members won everything they asked for in the CASA case, ASAP asked the government to pay for attorney fees. It is possible to win attorney fees from the U.S. government in certain kinds of civil rights lawsuits, but only after winning the case against the government.

Because ASAP members won a major victory in CASA, the government agreed to give ASAP and the other lawyers who worked on the lawsuit $110,000 to pay for some of the cost of litigating the CASA case in court.

ASAP will use these attorney fees to pay for staff salaries and other costs so that we can continue to work on behalf of ASAP members! ASAP is a nonprofit organization and ASAP membership is free for all members.

November 15, 2023 Updates

ASAP members fight for longer work permit extensions

ASAP members are asking the government for longer work permit extensions. ASAP believes that no immigrant should lose their job while waiting for their work permit renewal!

What is the problem? 

The government recently shortened work permit extensions for asylum seekers and other immigrants. Now, when an asylum seeker applies to renew their work permit, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will extend their current work permit for 180 days. Before October 26, 2023, asylum seekers received a longer, 540-day work permit extension. You can read more on this ASAP resource page.

Unfortunately, it is taking USCIS more than 180 days to process work permit renewal applications. Because of this, many immigrants will not be able to work or get a driver’s license while they wait for their work permit renewal decision.

What is ASAP doing about this problem? 

In response to ASAP members’ concerns, ASAP has been working on this problem for the last two months.

  • ASAP wrote a letter to the Biden Administration asking for a longer work permit extension of at least 540 days. This letter was signed by 153 other organizations, including labor unions that represent many workers.
  • ASAP also helped U.S. Representatives Adriano Espaillat and Jamaal Bowman write a different letter to the Biden Administration. 35 Members of U.S. Congress signed the letter asking for a longer work permit extension. This press release about the letter includes a quote from Charity, an ASAP member from Nigeria!
  • ASAP is now helping city governments write a letter to the Biden Administration asking for a longer work permit extension.

It is important that the Biden Administration hears from many different people who agree with ASAP members about the importance of having a longer work permit extension. ASAP will continue to advocate for longer work permit extensions and we will share updates on this page.

Processing times for initial work permits in October

Good news! Thanks to ASAP members’ advocacy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is continuing to process most initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days. ASAP received updated information about initial work permit application processing times through a lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS.

Here are the details:

  • In October 2023, 91,335 asylum seekers received decisions on their initial work permit applications.
    • Of those asylum seekers, 90.4% received a decision about their work permit within the correct 30-day period, and 98.8% received a decision within 60 days.
    • This is similar to last month, when 89% of initial work permit applications were processed within 30 days.
  • In October 2023, 48,304 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits.
    • Of the asylum seekers who were still waiting, 5,955 had been waiting for more than 30 days.
    • This is an improvement from last month, when 6,755 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits after 30 days.

ASAP members have worked hard to win these improvements in the processing times for initial work permit applications! In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to make sure that USCIS processes initial work permit applications within 30 days.

USCIS publishes new rules about cases dismissed in immigration court

Since 2022, the U.S. government has “dismissed” thousands of immigration court cases for immigrants across the country. Many ASAP members told ASAP that they did not know how to apply for a work permit after the government had dismissed their case, and ASAP staff shared these concerns with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

This month, we have good news: USCIS finally listened! USCIS published new rules for asylum seekers whose immigration court cases were dismissed. You can read about the new rules here.

Thank you to all the ASAP members who shared their concerns and advocated for a change!

October 11, 2023 Updates

ASAP members win! Asylum seekers will now receive 5-year work permits!

Great news! USCIS will now issue work permits for asylum seekers that are valid for 5 years, instead of 2 years! ASAP members asked for longer work permits for many years, and now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has listened. Thank you to the ASAP members who identified this solution, and who spoke to the government and to the media about why this solution is important. Due to members’ leadership, USCIS will now make work permits based on pending asylum applications valid for 5 years, instead of 2 years.

For more information about 5-year work permits, read ASAP’s update here.

Thank you again to all the ASAP members who fought for this change and won longer work permits!

Processing times for initial work permits and renewals

Most asylum seekers are receiving initial work permits within 30 days

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is continuing to process most initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days. This month, ASAP received updated information about initial work permit processing times through a lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS.

Here are the details:

  • In September 2023, 73,689 asylum seekers received decisions on their initial work permit applications.
    • Of those asylum seekers, 89% received a decision about their work permit within the correct 30-day period, and 97% received a decision within 60 days.
    • This is a small change from last month, when 91% of initial work permit applications were processed within 30 days.
  • In September 2023, 49,338 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits.
    • Of the asylum seekers who were still waiting, 6,755 had been waiting for more than 30 days.
    • This is a small increase from last month, when 6,636 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits after 30 days.

ASAP members have worked hard to win these improvements in the processing times for initial work permit applications! In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to make sure that USCIS processes initial work permit applications within 30 days.

Most asylum seekers are waiting more than six months for work permit renewals 

Unfortunately, USCIS is still taking a very long time to process work permit renewal applications for asylum seekers. On September 21, ASAP received updated information about processing times for work permit renewal applications as of June 30, 2023.

Here are the details:

  • As of June 30, 2023, 177,728 asylum seekers had been waiting 180 days or more for a decision on their work permit renewal applications. That means that 63% of asylum seekers have waited 180 days or more for their work permit renewal applications to be processed.
  • USCIS is required to process initial work permits for asylum seekers within 30 days, but there is no legal requirement for USCIS to process work permit renewal applications within a certain time period.

Last year, ASAP members spoke out about these processing delays, and they won a 540-day work permit extension. Unfortunately this longer, 540-day extension will only be given to immigrants who apply for a work permit renewal before October 26, 2023. To learn more about whether to apply to renew your work permit before October 26, 2023, you can read this ASAP resource.

ASAP knows that these renewal delays are unacceptable. We will work with members to push the government to create another 540-day work permit extension policy, and we will keep you updated on this page.

September 13, 2023 Updates

ASAP members fight for more money for work permit processing

Many ASAP members have told us that USCIS needs to hire more staff members so it can process work permit applications more quickly. We shared this idea with Congress, and we asked Congress to give money to USCIS that can only be used for this purpose.

Now, a group of U.S. Senators agree with ASAP members. These Senators belong to the Senate Appropriations Committee. They wrote a bill that would give USCIS money that must be spent on work permit processing. In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to approve this bill. The next step is for the U.S. Senate to vote on the bill. You can read more about the U.S. Congress, bills, and the Senate Appropriations Committee below.

If this bill becomes law, USCIS must:

  • Spend $71.5 million dollars to process delayed work permit applications.
  • Spend $71.5 million dollars to process new work permit applications.
  • Report to Congress about how USCIS is using money to process work permit applications faster.

You can read more about the bill here.

We will keep you updated if this bill successfully moves through the next stages. In the meantime, we are excited to share this progress with ASAP members because your vision and ideas made this possible.

Last year, Congress did not give money to USCIS specifically for the purpose of work permit processing. Congress also did not require USCIS to report on how much money it spent to process work permits. Thanks to ASAP members, we are hopeful that Congress will require USCIS to do more this year.

What is the U.S. Congress? 

The U.S. Congress is the part of the U.S. government that makes laws. There are two parts of Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators represent all people who live in a specific state. Representatives represent all people who live in a smaller region of a state.

Senators are elected every 6 years, and Representatives are elected every 2 years. You can find your Senator here and your Representative here.

What is a bill?

A bill is a proposal for a new law. Both Senators and Representatives can introduce bills in Congress if they would like to change a current law or make a new law.

Senators and Representatives introduce many bills each year. Before a bill can become a law, it must receive enough votes in the Senate; it must receive enough votes in the House of Representatives; and it must be signed by the U.S. President. Many bills never become laws.

What is the Senate Appropriations Committee? 

The Senate Appropriations Committee is a group of U.S. Senators who write the bills that give money to U.S. government agencies like USCIS. Once this type of bill is drafted, the Senate Appropriations Committee must vote to approve the bill. If the Committee approves the bill, the next step is for the entire U.S. Senate to vote on the bill. There are currently 29 Senators who belong to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and there are 100 Senators who belong to the U.S. Senate in total.

There is also an Appropriations Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Like in the Senate, the House Appropriations Committee drafts bills that give money to U.S. government agencies and votes to approve them. If the Committee approves the bill, the next step is for the entire U.S. House of Representatives to vote on the bill. There are currently 61 Representatives who belong to the House Appropriations Committee, and there are 435 Representatives who belong to the U.S. House of Representatives in total.

Before a bill giving money to U.S. government agencies can become a law, the bill must be voted on and approved by a majority of the U.S. Senate and a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, and it must be signed by the U.S. President.

Processing times for initial work permits in August

Good news! Thanks to ASAP members’ advocacy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is continuing to process most initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days. ASAP received new information about initial work permit application processing times through a lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS.

Here are the details:

  • In August 2023, 80,508 asylum seekers received decisions on their initial work permit applications.
    • Of those asylum seekers, 91% received a decision about their work permit within the correct 30-day period, and 98% received a decision within 60 days.
    • This is similar to last month, when 89.5% of initial work permit applications were processed within 30 days.
  • In August 2023, 44,840 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits.
    • Of the asylum seekers who were still waiting, 6,636 had been waiting for more than 30 days.
    • This is a small increase from last month, when 6,535 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits after 30 days.

ASAP members have worked hard to win these improvements in the processing times for initial work permit applications! In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to make sure that USCIS processes initial work permit applications within 30 days.

August 16, 2023 Updates

Processing times for initial work permits in July

Good news! Thanks to ASAP members’ advocacy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is continuing to process most initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days. ASAP received new information about initial work permit application processing times through a lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS.

Here are the details:

  • In July 2023, 84,753 asylum seekers received decisions on their initial work permit applications.
    • Of those asylum seekers, 89.5% received a decision about their work permit within the correct 30-day period, and 97% received a decision within 60 days.
    • This is similar to last month, when 88% of initial work permit applications were processed within 30 days.
  • In July 2023, 42,835 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits.
    • Of the asylum seekers who were still waiting, 6,535 had been waiting for more than 30 days.
    • This is a small improvement from last month, when 7,500 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits after 30 days.

ASAP members have worked hard to win these improvements in the processing times for initial work permit applications! In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to make sure that USCIS processes initial work permit applications within 30 days.

Businesses ask for faster work permits for asylum seekers

Good news! This month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined ASAP members in the fight for faster work permits.

The U.S. Chamber is one of the largest organizations in the United States. Like ASAP, it is a membership organization. ASAP’s members are asylum seekers, and members of the U.S. Chamber are small and large businesses. The U.S. Chamber is a private organization. It is not part of the U.S. government.

In July, the U.S. Chamber wrote a letter to members of Congress asking them to support the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act. This bill would make it faster and easier for asylum seekers to receive work permits.

Many members of Congress care about the opinion of the U.S. Chamber. When a bill has the support of the U.S. Chamber, more members of Congress are interested in co-sponsoring that bill. And when a bill has more co-sponsors, it is more likely to become a law.

The U.S. Chamber works with both political parties, but they are considered to work more closely with the Republican Party. A bill has a better chance of becoming a law if it has the support of both major political parties.

With the support of the U.S. Chamber, the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act is one step closer to becoming a law. But there are still many more steps remaining.

ASAP will continue to do everything we can – including working with the U.S. Chamber, city governments, and others – to advance the cause of faster work permits for asylum seekers in the United States!

You can read the letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here.

What is Congress? 

Congress is the part of the U.S. government that makes laws. There are two parts of Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators represent all people who live in a specific state. Representatives represent all people who live in a smaller region of a state.

Senators are elected every 6 years, and Representatives are elected every 2 years. You can find your Senator here and your Representative here.

What is a bill?

A bill is a proposal for a new law. Both Senators and Representatives can introduce bills in Congress if they would like to change a current law or make a new law.

Senators and Representatives introduce many bills each year. Before a bill can become a law, it must receive enough votes in the Senate; it must receive enough votes in the House of Representatives; and it must be signed by the U.S. President. Many bills never become laws.

There is not enough time for a vote to take place for every bill in Congress. But it is important for a vote to take place because that is the only way a bill can become a law. Several things can make it more likely that a vote will take place for a specific bill.

First, a vote is more likely to take place if a bill has many co-sponsors. After a Senator or a Representative introduces a bill in Congress, they look for other Senators or Representatives to support their bill as well. If another Senator or Representative decides to support the bill publicly, they can become a “co-sponsor.” Once a bill has many co-sponsors, it is more likely that a vote will take place.

Second, a vote is more likely to take place if a bill has support from both major political parties. There are two major political parties in the United States: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. If a bill has support from both parties, it is much more likely that a vote will take place.

July 19, 2023 Updates

The CASA lawsuit is over. What is next?

In May, the CASA lawsuit ended, but ASAP’s advocacy for faster work permits has not! Thanks to the efforts of ASAP members, most asylum seekers are now getting their initial work permits within 30 days of applying. But there is still more to do.

Here is how ASAP will keep fighting for faster work permits in the months ahead:

  • We will continue to pressure the government to follow the law and process initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days.
  • We will ask the U.S. Congress to change the law so asylum seekers do not have to wait 150 days after applying for asylum to submit an initial work permit application. Read more below!
  • We will advocate for faster work permit renewal processing. And while work permit renewal processing remains slow, we will advocate for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to continue to auto-extend existing work permits. No asylum seeker should lose their job while waiting for the government to process their renewal application.
  • We will seek more data from USCIS about work permit processing, so that asylum seekers have the information they need.
  • We will find other ways to try to make the work permit process faster and easier for asylum seekers. This includes listening to suggestions from ASAP members!

Continue reading this month’s work permit advocacy update for more information.

ASAP members are trying to improve work permit laws

ASAP is continuing to fight for faster work permits for asylum seekers in the U.S. Congress, the part of the U.S. government that makes laws.  We last shared updates about this work in May 2023, and we have some positive news this month!

Why is ASAP advocating for faster work permits in Congress?

ASAP members have already won huge victories to get faster work permits for asylum seekers through lawsuits, speaking out in the press, and advocating for change at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But for work permits to become even faster, the law itself needs to change. Congress is the part of the U.S. government that can make and change laws, and has two divisions: the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. You can read more about how Congress works below.

Right now, the law says that asylum seekers must wait 180 days after applying for asylum to receive a work permit. First, asylum seekers must wait 150 days after applying for asylum to apply for a work permit. Next, USCIS must process the initial work permit applications in 30 days.

ASAP members have told us that this should change, and asylum seekers should not have to wait so long to apply for initial work permits. In response to this, ASAP has worked on two different proposals (“bills”) for changing the law about work permits. One of those bills is in the U.S. House of Representatives and the other is the U.S. Senate.

Thanks to ASAP members’ efforts, many U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators now agree that asylum seekers should get faster work permits!

U.S. House of Representatives: The Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act

First, ASAP has been working to convince U.S. Representatives in Congress to support a bill about faster work permits. This bill is called the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act and ASAP helped to write it. U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2023.

We are excited to share that ASAP has now convinced more U.S. Representatives from both major political parties to support the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act! As of July 11, 2023, 12 U.S. Representatives have “cosponsored” the bill, which means they have publicly stated their support.

If the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act became law:

  • Asylum seekers could receive a work permit 30 days after filing an asylum application, instead of 180 days.
  • Asylum seekers would no longer need to renew their work permits while their asylum case was pending.

You can read the full text of the bill here.

ASAP will work to convince more U.S. Representatives to support this bill and we will share updates on this page!

U.S. Senate: ASPIRE Act

Second, ASAP worked on a new bill about faster work permits in the U.S. Senate, called the Assisting Seekers in Pursuit of Integration and Rapid Employment Act (“ASPIRE” Act).  In June 2023, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate.

If the ASPIRE Act became law:

  • Asylum seekers could receive a work permit 30 days after filing an asylum application, instead of 180 days.
  • Asylum seekers would no longer need to renew their work permits while their asylum case was pending.
  • USCIS would receive $2 billion to fix delays in processing asylum applications.
  • State governments and nonprofit organizations would receive $10 billion to provide food, shelter, and transportation for asylum seekers.

You can read the full text of the bill here.

ASAP will now work to convince other U.S. Senators to support the ASPIRE Act and we will share updates on this page!

What is Congress, and what is a bill? 

Congress is the part of the U.S. government that makes laws. Members of Congress are elected to represent people living in different areas of the United States, including asylum seekers.

There are two parts of the U.S. Congress: the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Senators represent people based on the state where they live. U.S. Representatives represent people based on the specific region where they live within a state. You can find your Senator here and your Representative here.

A bill is a proposed draft law. U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives in Congress introduce many bills each year, but they must be approved by the two parts of the U.S. Congress and signed by the U.S. President before they can become laws. Many bills never become laws.

U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives can “introduce” bills. Later, if another U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative decides to publicly support the bill, they can become a “cosponsor.” Once a bill has many cosponsors, it is more likely to be voted on and to become law. It is more likely that a bill will be voted on if it has support from both major political parties. In the United States, there are two major political parties: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

Processing times for initial work permits in June

Good news for asylum seekers waiting for initial work permits

Good news! Thanks to the advocacy of ASAP members, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to process most initial work permit applications for asylum seekers on time. ASAP received new information about initial work permit application processing times through a lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS.

Here are the details:

  • In June 2023, 93,778 asylum seekers received decisions on their initial work permit applications.
    • Of those asylum seekers, 88% received a decision about their work permit within the correct 30-day period, and 98% received a decision within 60 days.
    • This is a major improvement from last month, when 70% of applications were processed within 30 days.
  • In June 2023, 52,827 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits.
    • Of the asylum seekers who were still waiting, 7,500 had been waiting for more than 30 days.
    • This is a major improvement from last month, when more than 25,000 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits after 30 days.

ASAP members have worked hard to win these improvements in the processing times for initial work permit applications! In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to fight for all initial work permits to be processed within 30 days.

Work permit renewal applications are very delayed

Unfortunately, renewal applications are still taking a very long time to process. ASAP received new information on work permit renewal processing times as of April 1, 2023. Read more about how ASAP fought to get this data from the government here.

Here are the details:

  • As of April 2023, 191,368 asylum seekers had been waiting 180 days or more for a decision on their work permit renewal applications. That means more than 66% of asylum seekers have waited 180 days or more for their work permit renewal applications to be processed.
  • Unlike the requirement that USCIS process initial work permits for asylum seekers in 30 days, there is no legal requirement for USCIS to process work permit renewal applications within a certain time period.

ASAP knows that these renewal delays are unacceptable. We will continue to advocate for change and we will share updates on this page!

Learn about how to renew your work permit here.

June 12, 2023 Updates

The CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit has ended!

Thanks to the work of ASAP members, asylum seekers are now getting their initial work permits much faster.

On May 18, 2023, the Judge ended the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit! The Judge ended the lawsuit because the U.S. government is now doing almost everything that ASAP members had asked for to process initial work permits for asylum seekers. You can read the Judge’s decision here.

ASAP thanks the members who decided to bring the CASA lawsuit nearly 3 years ago! Over the years, the lawsuit has helped over 150,000 ASAP members receive work permits who otherwise would not have gotten them. Wendi Garcia, one of the ASAP members who helped bring the lawsuit, shared: “I feel very happy, because the outcome of this lawsuit was not only a victory for me, but for many others.”

One of the last big changes that ASAP members had been fighting for in the CASA lawsuit was for the government to fix delays in processing initial work permit applications. The good news is this problem is now almost fixed. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now processing most initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days. According to new data from USCIS, in May 2023, almost 70% of asylum seekers received their initial work permits within 30 days. USCIS processed 110,000 initial work permit applications for asylum seekers in May!

We expect that these numbers will improve even more in June. USCIS has promised that all asylum seekers applying for their initial work permit will soon be able to get their initial work permits processed within 30 days. ASAP will be here to make sure USCIS will process initial work permits in 30 days! In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to fight alongside ASAP members for faster work permit processing for all asylum seekers.

You can read more about the end of the CASA lawsuit in this news article. You can also read about how ASAP members decided to file the CASA lawsuit here. For more information about work permits for asylum seekers, you can read this ASAP page.

USCIS responds to the letter from 51 city mayors and promises faster work permits

Earlier this year, ASAP worked with a group of 51 mayors from cities such as New York City and Los Angeles to put pressure on USCIS to get work permits to asylum seekers faster. In the April 2023 update, we wrote about a letter 51 mayors sent to USCIS. ASAP helped to write this letter. We included our members’ recommendations for what USCIS can do to process both initial work permit applications and work permit renewal applications faster.

This month we are excited to share that USCIS responded to the mayors’ letter. In their response, USCIS promised to process work permits more quickly! They also announced a plan to implement ASAP members’ recommendations. You can read the full response from USCIS here.

Specifically, USCIS promised to take the following actions:

  • USCIS will change the work permit application form so that it is simpler.
  • USCIS will hire more employees to process work permit applications.
  • USCIS will allow their employees to work extra hours to help reduce delays.
  • USCIS will publish new data about processing times for work permits for asylum seekers.

Thanks to ASAP members’ advocacy, USCIS is paying more attention to the problem of work permit delays. We hope that USCIS will keep their promises and we will keep fighting to make sure they do!

For more information about work permits for asylum seekers, you can read this ASAP page.

May 11, 2023 Updates

ASAP advocates for faster work permits in Congress

ASAP recently worked with representatives in the U.S. Congress on a new proposed bill to help asylum seekers get work permits faster. The bill is called the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act and it includes ideas from ASAP members! We do not expect that the bill will become a law at this time, but it is an important first step. Read more below.

What is Congress?  

Congress is the part of the U.S. government that makes laws. Members of Congress are elected to represent people living in different areas of the United States, including asylum seekers. There are two parts of the U.S. Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators represent people based on the state where they live. Representatives represent people based on the specific region where they live within a state. You can find your Senator here and your Representative here.

What is a bill? 

A bill is a proposed draft law. Members of Congress introduce many bills each year, but they must be approved by the two parts of the U.S. Congress and signed by the U.S. President before they can become laws. Many bills never become laws.

What is the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act? 

The Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act is a bill to improve access to work permits for asylum seekers. ASAP staff worked with a member of Congress, Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine, to ensure that the bill included ASAP members’ ideas and concerns. In spring 2023, Representative Pingree introduced the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act in the U.S. House of Representatives!

If the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act became a law in the future, it would allow asylum seekers to receive a work permit 30 days after filing an asylum application, instead of 180 days. It would also make asylum seekers’ work permits valid for as long as an asylum application was pending which means asylum seekers would no longer need to apply to renew their work permits.

You can read more about the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act here.

What are the next steps? 

We do not know what will happen with the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act in the future. However, ASAP will continue to monitor the situation in Congress and will keep fighting for asylum seekers’ access to work permits. Eventually, we hope that Congress will make new laws that improve work permits for asylum seekers across the United States!

New data shows that work permit delays continue

For many months, ASAP members have told us about the problem of long work permit delays, for both initial and renewal applications. Unfortunately, new information from the U.S. government confirms that these delays continue to affect thousands of asylum seekers.

ASAP will provide updates on this page whenever we get new information from the government. We will also continue to work together to fight for an end to these unacceptable delays!

Initial work permit applications

This month, the government shared new data about initial work permit delays through a lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS. The good news is that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now processing many more applications each month. However, the bad news is that delays continue. USCIS is legally required to process initial work permits for all asylum seekers within 30 days, but they are failing to do so.

Here are the details:

  • In April 2023, 87,977 asylum seekers received decisions on their initial work permit applications.
    • Of the asylum seekers who received decisions, only about 44% received a decision about their work permit within the correct 30-day period.
    • This is an improvement from March, when only about 34% of asylum seekers received a decision on their initial work permits within 30 days.
  • As of April 2023, 88,359 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits.
    • Of the asylum seekers who were still waiting, more than 25,000 had already been waiting for more than 30 days.
    • This is also an improvement from March, when more than 40,000 asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their initial work permits after 30 days.

Work permit renewal applications

This month, the government also shared new data about work permit renewal delays. USCIS shared this new data in response to the advocacy we talked about in ASAP’s February 2023 update. Unfortunately, long delays for work permit renewals continue.

Here are the details:

  • As of December 2022, 194,901 asylum seekers had been waiting 180 days or more for a decision on their work permit renewal applications.
  • There is no legal requirement for USCIS to process renewal applications within a certain time period. However, if you submitted your work permit renewal application before your previous work permit expired, you should receive an automatic 540-day work permit extension. This extension allows you to continue using your current work permit for an extra 540 days after the expiration date. Many ASAP members fought to win this automatic extension!

April 21, 2023 Updates

More than 50 mayors join ASAP members to fight for faster work permits!

Across the United States, mayors and city governments are joining ASAP members in the fight for faster work permits!

On March 28, 2023, over 50 mayors and city governments sent a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They asked USCIS to make it faster and easier for asylum seekers to get a work permit, and shared other specific ideas from ASAP members. The mayors who signed the letter represent many large cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, North Miami, and Austin!

ASAP worked on this letter in response to ASAP members’ number one priority –  to speed up processing for work permits and the asylum system.

As one ASAP member from Nigeria explained: “I would like to shorten or eliminate the wait completely for asylum seekers to be able to apply for work authorization. It is an extreme hardship to have to wait years for the asylum process to be completed and not be able to obtain work authorization.”

ASAP staff collected many ideas from members about how to improve the work permit system and shared those ideas anonymously with the mayors. The mayors agreed with ASAP members that USCIS should process work permits more quickly and that work permits should be valid for a longer time!

In the letter, the mayors said: “Our communities have asylum seekers that want to work to support themselves and their families, and at the same time, the employers in our city face a historic labor shortage. Our cities and municipalities feel these unnecessary delays.”

You can read the full letter and all of the recommendations here.

We are excited that so many mayors and city governments are following the lead of ASAP members! It is important that the government knows that mayors across the United States agree with ASAP members and believe that asylum seekers should get work permits faster. We hope this letter will push USCIS to make it faster and easier for asylum seekers to get a work permit.

Learn more:

  • You can watch a NBC news report on the mayors who are advocating for faster work permits here. (This video is in English.)
  • If your work permit is delayed, you can read more about what you can do at this ASAP page.
ASAP advocates for faster work permits in Congress

Last month, ASAP worked with representatives in the U.S. Congress on a new proposed bill to help asylum seekers get work permits faster. The bill is called the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act and it includes ideas from ASAP members! We do not expect that the bill will become a law at this time, but it is an important first step. Read more below.

What is Congress?  

Congress is the part of the U.S. government that makes laws. Members of Congress are elected to represent people living in different areas of the United States, including asylum seekers. There are two parts of the U.S. Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators represent people based on the state where they live. Representatives represent people based on the specific region where they live within a state. You can find your Senator here and your Representative here.

What is a bill? 

A bill is a proposed draft law. Members of Congress introduce many bills each year, but they must be approved by the two parts of the U.S. Congress and signed by the U.S. President before they can become laws. Many bills never become laws.

What is the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act? 

The Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act is a bill to improve access to work permits for asylum seekers. ASAP staff worked with a member of Congress, Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine, to ensure that the bill included ASAP members’ ideas and concerns. In March 2023, Representative Pingree introduced the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act in the U.S. House of Representatives!

If the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act became a law in the future, it would allow asylum seekers to receive a work permit 30 days after filing an asylum application, instead of 180 days. It would also make asylum seekers’ work permits valid for as long as an asylum application was pending which means asylum seekers would no longer need to apply to renew their work permits.

You can read more about the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act here.

What are the next steps? 

We do not know what will happen with the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act in the future. However, ASAP will continue to monitor the situation in Congress and will keep fighting for asylum seekers’ access to work permits. Eventually, we hope that Congress will make new laws that improve work permits for asylum seekers across the United States!

USCIS continues to report delays on initial work permits

This month, the government shared updated data about initial work permit delays. The good news is that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now processing more applications each month. However, the bad news is that delays continue.

Here are the details: Of the asylum seekers who actually received decisions on their initial work permit applications in March 2023, only about 34% received a decision about their work permit in the correct 30-day time period. This is an increase from February, when only about 17% of asylum seekers received a decision on their initial work permits within 30 days. We are glad the government is listening to ASAP members and processing more work permit applications. However, the current delays are still unacceptable. More than 40,000 asylum seekers have been waiting for over 30 days for a decision on their initial work permit.

The government shares this data each month through a case called Rosario v. USCIS. ASAP will provide updates on this page whenever we get new data. We will also continue to advocate for an end to these delays!

The judge has not made a final decision in the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit

ASAP members continue to wait for a decision from the court in CASA v. Mayorkas about delays in work permit application processing. The court may dismiss the case, request more information, or order the government to process work permit applications more quickly. We do not know when the court will issue its decision, but we will update members on this page as soon as we have additional information.

For more information, see this previous update.

March 24, 2023 Updates

USCIS listens to ASAP members and corrects problems with work permit receipts!

ASAP members fixed an important problem related to work permit receipts!

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently created a process for asylum seekers to apply for work permits online. ASAP members asked for this process for years, and USCIS finally listened.

When ASAP members started to use the online application process to renew their work permits, they discovered that USCIS was issuing the online work permit receipts incorrectly. The receipts did not include information about the automatic 540-day work permit extension. Members told us that some employers would not allow them to keep their jobs unless their receipts included this information.

ASAP reached out to USCIS to tell them about our members’ concerns. By sharing their experiences, ASAP members convinced USCIS to fix the problem. Now, when asylum seekers apply to renew their work permits online, they receive receipts with correct information about the automatic 540-day extension.

This victory shows that when ASAP members speak out, they have the power to fix problems with the immigration system for themselves and for thousands of others!

Learn more about the online work permit application here. 

USCIS continues to report delays on initial work permits

In a case called Rosario v. USCIS, the government provided updated data about initial work permit delays. Unfortunately, the delays continue.

Of the asylum seekers who actually received decisions on their initial work permit applications in February 2023, only about 15% received a decision about their work permit in the correct 30-day time period. This is a small change from January, when about 14% of asylum seekers received a decision on their initial work permits within 30 days. However, it is still unacceptable. More than 57,000 asylum seekers have been waiting for over 30 days for a decision on their initial work permit.

ASAP will continue to advocate for an end to these delays and provide updates on this page.

The judge has not made a final decision in the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit

ASAP members continue to wait for a decision from the court in CASA v. Mayorkas about delays in work permit application processing. The court may dismiss the case, request more information, or order the government to process work permit applications more quickly. We don’t know when the court will issue its decision, but we will update members on this page as soon as we have additional information. For more information about the issue the Court will address, see this previous update.

February 7, 2023 Updates

After meeting with ASAP, U.S. Congress takes action to fix USCIS delays

Tens of thousands of ASAP members have expressed concerns about how long it is taking for their work permit applications, asylum applications, and other immigration applications to be processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Fixing delays is now ASAP’s number one priority for changing the asylum process.

In 2022, ASAP staff met with members of the U.S. Congress to discuss delays and backlogs of immigration applications. Members of Congress are elected to make laws and represent people living in different areas of the United States, including asylum seekers. ASAP staff explained to members of Congress how important it is to ASAP members that their immigration applications be processed more quickly.

After these meetings, the U.S. Congress voted to help with the problem of delays! Congress required USCIS to make changes that will provide ASAP members with more information about the processing times of immigration applications. Making this information public will also put pressure on USCIS to reduce backlogs.

Here are the changes that Congress ordered:

  1. USCIS must put information on its website about the total number of pending work permit applications, and how long they have been pending. USCIS must do this by March 22, 2023.
  2. USCIS must provide Congress with a plan for how it will report about delays with asylum applications and other immigration applications. This report must include the number of applicants in the backlog. USCIS must do this by February 21, 2023.
  3. USCIS must report to Congress about what it is doing to reduce asylum application delays. USCIS must do this March 22, 2023.
  4. USCIS must give Congress a plan to address all immigration application delays. USCIS must do this by June 21, 2023.

Even though these actions alone will not solve the problem of USCIS delays, we hope they will be an important step in the right direction.

ASAP will continue to fight for ASAP members to get work permits and asylum applications processed faster! ASAP will also continue to send information about what USCIS is doing to reduce backlogs.

ASAP members’ petition to reduce USCIS processing times gets thousands of signatures

Last month, ASAP shared a petition made by ASAP members asking President Biden to process immigration applications more quickly. Almost 45,000 people have already signed this petition.

After the petition was shared in last month’s member update, over 4,000 ASAP members signed the petition in only a few days! If you agree with the petition and have not signed it, please sign here! The goal is for the petition to get 50,000 signatures!

The petition asks President Biden to make sure USCIS does the following:

  1. Reduce long processing times;
  2. Provide people applying for immigration status with more detailed and accurate information about their cases, including more information about when they can expect a decision;
  3. Create faster or immediate approval for renewing work permits and other documents if all the applicant’s information is still the same;
  4. Give people with Temporary Protected Status who are denied asylum at an asylum interview the ability to ask for reconsideration of their cases;
  5. Make it easier and faster to get visa interviews or eliminate the need for interviews by conducting online reviews of visa applications.

The ASAP members leading this petition are also working on a letter to USCIS with proposals for how USCIS can make these changes. If you are interested in helping with this letter, you can email the group at: [email protected].

ASAP members win online work permit applications for asylum seekers!

For a long time, ASAP members have asked USCIS to allow asylum seekers to submit work permit applications online. ASAP has made this request to USCIS and President Biden many times over the last year. In January 2023, USCIS finally announced that work permit applications will be online for asylum seekers! Other types of work permit applications are also online now, including applications based on Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

There is still more advocacy to do to make sure the online filing system works for ASAP members. For example, it is unfortunately not possible right now to file a fee waiver with the online work permit application.

ASAP members have told ASAP that there may be a problem with online receipt notices not including accurate information about the 540-day auto-extension for renewal applications. ASAP has already told USCIS about these problems and recommended that USCIS take action to fix these problems as soon as possible.

ASAP will update you with more details about the online work permit application when ASAP staff learns more information. If you want to apply online now, go to this USCIS webpage. Scroll down to where it says “I-765 | Application for Employment Authorization” and click “File Online.” You will need to create a USCIS Online Account to file your work permit application online.

ASAP members continue to wait for a decision from the judge in CASA

ASAP members continue to wait for the judge to make a final decision in the CASA v. Mayorkas case. ASAP members have asked the judge to order USCIS to process asylum seekers’ initial work permit applications within 30 days.

As we explained in a previous update, the judge will decide what happens next in the case. At this time, we do not know if the judge will issue a written decision or if she will first ask ASAP attorneys to present arguments at a public hearing.

We will tell members when we receive a decision from the judge or have any major new updates to share! We will also share the latest information on processing delays of initial work permit applications for asylum seekers when we receive it from the U.S. government.

January 12, 2023 Updates

112 other organizations joined ASAP’s fight against work permit delays!

Last month, ASAP launched a new effort to get many more organizations to pressure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to solve work permit delays!

ASAP wrote an 8-page letter to USCIS that included suggestions from over 1,000 ASAP members. For example, ASAP members suggested that USCIS use a shorter work permit application form, and make a work permit valid for at least 5 years instead of 2 years. You can read these recommendations and others in the letter here.

After writing the letter, ASAP asked many other organizations to sign on and add their support. It is important that the government knows that many organizations agree with ASAP and believe that asylum seekers should get work permits faster and more easily. Ultimately,  ASAP got 112 other organizations that work with asylum seekers to sign this letter! We are excited that so many organizations agree with ASAP members that it should be easier for asylum seekers to get work permits, and that these organizations have now joined ASAP in advocating for ASAP members’ recommendations with USCIS.

We hope the letter will put pressure on USCIS to act quickly and make the issue of faster work permits for asylum seekers a priority at USCIS.

In the months ahead, ASAP will continue to take actions to advocate for faster work permits. We will keep you updated as we continue to push the government to make the process of getting a work permit easier and faster for asylum seekers.

ASAP members continue to wait for a decision from the judge in CASA

ASAP members continue to wait for the judge to make a final decision in the CASA v. Mayorkas case. ASAP members have asked the judge to order USCIS to process asylum seekers’ initial work permit applications within 30 days.

As we mentioned in last month’s update, the judge will decide what happens next in the case. At this time, we do not know if the judge will issue a written decision or if she will first ask ASAP attorneys to present our arguments at a public hearing. We will tell members when we receive a decision from the judge or have any major new updates to share!

USCIS admits to long delays in processing initial work permit applications

ASAP members continue to report that their applications for initial work permits are taking longer than 30 days to process. This is true even though the government is required by law to process initial work permits applications within 30 days.

On January 5, the U.S. government provided new data that once again confirmed what many members have already told ASAP. Based on the data, ASAP estimates that many asylum seekers will have to wait up to 90 days before receiving a decision on their initial work permit applications.

Of the asylum seekers who actually received decisions on their initial work permit applications in December, only 14% received a decision about their work permit in the correct 30-day time period. The rest waited more than 30 days. Even worse, 98,096 other asylum seekers did not receive a decision at all on their initial work permit application in December, even though more than half of them had already been waiting for more than 30 days.

It is unacceptable and unfair that asylum seekers have to wait so long for their work permits. You can read more about how ASAP is taking action to advocate for members who are suffering as a result of these delays above!

If your initial work permit application is delayed, learn what steps you can take.

December 8, 2022 Updates

ASAP members continue to wait for a decision from the judge in CASA

ASAP members continue to wait for the judge to make a final decision in the CASA v. Mayorkas case. As we mentioned in last month’s update, in November, ASAP submitted additional written arguments requested by the court. At this time, we do not know if the judge will issue a written decision or if she will first ask ASAP attorneys to present our arguments at a public hearing. We will tell members when we receive a decision from the court or have any major new updates to share!

ASAP members continue to report long delays in initial work permit applications

In the meantime, ASAP members continue to report that their applications for initial work permits are taking longer than 30 days to process. This is true even though the government is required by law to process initial work permits applications within 30 days.

On December 6, the U.S. government provided new data that confirmed what many members have already told ASAP. The new data shows that there are still processing delays. Of the asylum seekers who received decisions on their initial work permit applications in November:

  • Only 12% received a decision about their work permit in the correct 30-day time period.
  • 47% received a decision about their work permit after waiting 30 to 60 days.
  • 41% received a decision about their work permit after waiting more than 60 days.

In addition, many other asylum seekers did not receive a decision at all on their initial work permit application in November despite waiting for more than 30 days. This is very disappointing, since the government is supposed to process initial work permits within 30 days.

We know that getting a work permit quickly is a top priority for ASAP members. As one member from Iran said, “USCIS should provide a work permit as soon as someone has applied for asylum. It is very unfair that asylum seekers are waiting many months to get their work permits.”

We agree that it is very unfair that asylum seekers have to wait so long for their work permits. We are exploring more ways to advocate for members who are suffering as a result of these delays and we will keep you updated! You can also read more of our previous work permit advocacy updates below.

If your initial work permit application is delayed, learn what steps you can take.

November 4, 2022 Updates

ASAP continues to fight for 30-day processing of initial work permits

ASAP is continuing to fight for 30-day processing of initial work permits for asylum seekers in the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit. Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is still not processing asylum seekers’ initial work permits in 30 days, even though they are required to by law.

Last month, we shared that the government missed their deadline to respond to ASAP’s arguments in the CASA v. Mayorkas case. But this month, the government submitted a new argument to the judge asking her to end the lawsuit. The judge then asked ASAP to submit additional written arguments to respond to the government and explain why the case should continue. So on November 2, ASAP submitted more written arguments. ASAP argued that the case should continue because asylum seekers are still not receiving their initial work permits in 30 days and there is evidence the government has not stopped following parts of the Trump work permit rules.

If the judge agrees with ASAP, then the case will continue and the judge will have to decide whether to order USCIS to process asylum seeker initial work permit applications within 30 days. If the government wins, the case will end.

Regardless of what happens, ASAP will continue to fight for asylum seekers’ access to work permits!

ASAP gathers almost 50 organizations together to push for faster work permits!

This month, ASAP helped to start a new group of almost 50 nonprofit organizations to work together to fight for faster access to work permits for asylum seekers! Some city and state government representatives also joined the group. ASAP started this new group along with two partner organizations, the American Immigration Counsel and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

ASAP is now working with this new group to create a document with recommendations for how the government can change the laws about work permits. To create this document, ASAP reviewed the suggestions that ASAP members submitted when they filled out their ASAP member applications. We are including ASAP members’ ideas about work permit access in the document and we will share it with you as soon as it is ready. Our hope is that getting many organizations to agree on the recommendations in the document will help us make sure that ASAP members’ ideas and recommendations are being advocated for by other organizations and local and state governments as well!  We hope together, we can push government policy makers and legislators to make changes!

We are very excited that so many organizations are now following the lead of ASAP members and joining the fight for faster work permits for asylum seekers!

ASAP members win expansion of faster processing for healthcare and childcare workers

Several ASAP members in the healthcare or childcare field told ASAP that they had been waiting for their initial work permit to be processed for more than 30 days. Some people had been waiting more than 90 days.

While ASAP is fighting to get faster processing times for ALL asylum seekers, we also reached out to USCIS to ask whether there was a way to speed up the process for healthcare and childcare workers when someone applies for the first time. We asked about healthcare and childcare workers specifically because we knew that USCIS already had a process for these workers to get faster processing on their renewal applications only.

Good news: USCIS responded by expanding their healthcare and childcare faster processing to initial work permits! Now, if you are an asylum seeker or other immigrant who works in healthcare or childcare and you are  applying for your initial work permit, you may be able to ask for faster processing. Learn more about the faster process for healthcare and childcare workers here.

If you are experiencing problems with your work permit, sharing your experience with ASAP may not only help you, but may help others too!

ASAP pushes USCIS to solve asylum application receipt delays

Many ASAP members have told ASAP that they are experiencing long delays in getting the receipt of their asylum application (Form I-589). These delays are a problem because you may be waiting for your asylum application receipt notice in order to apply for your work permit. We know this is a big problem and have asked USCIS and the White House about this issue. We will update you if we get any news!

If you have not yet applied for asylum and are planning to apply with USCIS (not with the immigration court), you may be able to apply for asylum online. If you do, you should receive your receipt much faster. Learn more about applying for asylum online here.

October 13, 2022 Updates

ASAP continues the fight in court for faster initial work permits

Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is still not processing initial work permit applications from asylum seekers in 30 days, even though that is what the law requires. Through two lawsuits, ASAP is fighting to fix that.

Update on the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit

ASAP asked the judge in the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit to order USCIS to process asylum seekers’ initial work permits within 30 days. ASAP lawyers submitted new written arguments, and three ASAP members shared their stories about work permit delays with the judge.

The government then missed their deadline to respond to ASAP’s arguments, and asked the judge for more time. But the judge denied the government’s request for more time. The judge also denied a separate request from the government to pause the whole lawsuit.

We are now waiting to see what the judge will decide about 30-day processing. The judge could agree with ASAP and order USCIS to make a new plan for processing asylum seekers’ initial work permits within 30 days. Or, the judge could agree with the government. If the judge agrees with the government, the lawsuit will end and USCIS will not be required to come up with a new plan for 30-day processing.

Even if the judge decides the CASA lawsuit should end, ASAP will continue to fight for faster processing for members’ work permit applications. We will find new ways to get the government to act more quickly!

Update on the Rosario v. USCIS lawsuit

Rosario v. USCIS is another lawsuit that was started to help asylum seekers get 30-day processing for their initial work permit applications. ASAP is not part of the team of lawyers who work on the Rosario lawsuit. But ASAP has provided the team of lawyers with important evidence about members not getting their work permits in 30 days.

This month, the judge in the Rosario lawsuit decided that USCIS could have more time to fix the work permit delays, because USCIS said they needed time to process older applications. The judge agreed to give USCIS until November 15, 2022 to start processing all initial work permits within 30 days. ASAP does not agree with this decision and thinks the government should act more quickly!

However, the good news is that the judge also said that if USCIS did not fix the delays by November 15, he would be willing to review the case again. We will continue to monitor the Rosario lawsuit and share updates.

USCIS updated the official work permit rules, a victory for ASAP members

The old Trump work permit rules were ruled illegal by a court in February of 2022, but for the past seven months the government had not updated its official websites and documents to show that the Trump work permit rules were no longer the law. This has caused a lot of confusion among asylum seekers and lawyers about when an asylum seeker can apply for a work permit and whether the government has to process initial work permit applications in 30 days.

ASAP pressured the government through conversations and in the CASA v. Mayorkas case to change the rules and make it clear that (1) asylum seekers can apply for their work permits 150 days after filing an asylum application and (2) that asylum seekers’ initial work permits should be processed within 30 days.

This month the government finally did what ASAP members had asked for and updated its official website to show that the Trump rules are no longer the law!

Asylum seekers have been sent on buses to new cities, and ASAP is responding

Many asylum seekers were put on buses by the governors of Texas and Florida to go to far away cities, such as Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.. Some asylum seekers were misinformed about what resources and opportunities would be available to them in these new cities. Other asylum seekers did not want to go to Chicago, New York City, or Washington, D.C. – instead, they wanted to go to cities like Miami or Houston to be close to family and friends in the United States.

ASAP reaches out to asylum seekers sent on buses to new cities 

ASAP is working with organizations and volunteers in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. to make sure that newly arrived asylum seekers know about ASAP, how to become a member, and how to find ASAP’s legal resources. It is important that asylum seekers arriving on buses have access to ASAP’s resources, because even if these individuals do not stay in the community where they have been sent, they can access ASAP’s membership from anywhere.

ASAP works with city governments in the fight for faster work permits 

The local governments in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. are trying to welcome asylum seekers to their communities. But these local governments and volunteers welcoming asylum seekers have realized what ASAP members already know – it takes too long for asylum seekers to get work permits, which are needed to start a new life in the United States.

Now, local governments are speaking out about the importance of work permits for asylum seekers.

Because ASAP members have told us that quick access to work permits is one of their top priorities, ASAP is working with local governments and other organizations to bring attention to the importance of work permits, and to push the federal government to process work permit applications faster, and change the law to make it easier for asylum seekers to get work permits.

September 7, 2022 Updates

ASAP fights to end delays for initial work permit applications

Over 200 ASAP members have reached out to ASAP about delays with their initial work permit applications. Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is currently taking about 90 days to process initial work permit applications, even though they are legally required to process initial work permits in 30 days.

ASAP believes this is unacceptable! ASAP members are advocating to end these work permit delays through the courts and the media.

ASAP is asking for faster initial work permits through the CASA lawsuit

Through the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit, ASAP is fighting for 30-day processing for ASAP members’ initial work permit applications. ASAP is continuing to fight the CASA lawsuit because ASAP members and other asylum seekers are still being hurt by the Trump work permit rules that made it harder for asylum seekers to get a work permit.

On August 26, 2022, the government asked the judge to stop the CASA lawsuit. ASAP disagrees. Instead, ASAP will ask the judge to continue the lawsuit and order USCIS to process ASAP members’ applications within 30 days. ASAP will also ask for other changes so that it is clear that the Trump work permit rules do not apply to asylum seekers’ work permit applications anymore. ASAP is going to file a written argument to the court, and will share that with you in next month’s update.

ASAP members shared their stories in the Rosario v. USCIS lawsuit!

ASAP is also taking action through a different lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS. ASAP asked the judge in the Rosario lawsuit to force USCIS to follow the law and process asylum seekers’ initial work permits in 30 days. ASAP members shared how work permit delays were hurting them and their families, preventing them from taking new jobs, and causing them to fear losing their homes and medical care.

ASAP hopes that ASAP members’ stories will show the judge that there is an urgent need to process work permits more quickly. We expect that the judge will make a decision within the next two months.

ASAP members spoke to the media about how work permit delays have hurt them!

Several ASAP members have spoken to the media over the last few weeks about the work permit delays. You can read a news article in Roll Call here, featuring two ASAP members, Yusuf Ali Sendil and Rickie Chiu.

Yusuf Ali Sendil said, “It’s kind of depressing for me. It’s made me so anxious, and I feel so alone here.”

“At this rate, if it goes on, I’m going to use up my savings pretty soon. If that happens, I’m not sure what to do,” Rickie Chiu said. “I feel like I’m being pushed in a corner now.”

We are excited to share that shortly after this article was published, both Yusuf and Rickie got their work permits from USCIS! We hope that the article will keep pressure on USCIS to process initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days!

USCIS updated the work permit form and instructions

ASAP members won a victory! USCIS finally updated the work permit instructions and form.

Before September 6, 2022, the instructions for the work permit application (Form I-765) had a lot of incorrect information. This has caused many ASAP members to be confused. The application form also had many questions that USCIS no longer needed asylum seekers to answer.

On September 6, 2022, USCIS made changes to the work permit instructions and work permit application to make the information correct. You can go to USCIS’s website to see the new work permit application instructions and the new I-765 work permit application form!

You should apply for a work permit with the new I-765 form if you can – it is shorter and easier to fill out! For now USCIS will continue to accept the older applications that have the date 5/31/22 or 08/25/20 on the bottom left corner. Starting November 7, 2022, USCIS will only accept the new work permit application with the date 07/26/22 in the bottom left corner.

August 3, 2022 Updates

ASAP continues to fight back against work permit delays

As we shared last month, USCIS is no longer processing ASAP members’ initial work permit applications within 30 days. ASAP believes these delays are unacceptable and we continue to fight back!

This month, as part of the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit, ASAP met with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). ASAP attorneys told staff at USCIS that we believe the delays are against the law. ASAP demanded that USCIS process ASAP members’ initial work permit applications within 30 days. ASAP also demanded that USCIS give us reports so we can know and tell you how fast they are processing applications.

How USCIS responded:

  • Unfortunately, USCIS did not agree to process ASAP member’s work permit applications within 30 days right now. However, USCIS told ASAP that they have a goal to fix the delays by the end of September 2022. By the end of September, USCIS said they plan to process almost all asylum seekers’ initial work permit applications within 30 days, including ASAP members’ applications.
  • USCIS did agree to share a report about their processing times. This is good, because ASAP can check how quickly USCIS is processing work permits and update ASAP members. ASAP can also share this information with the judge in the CASA lawsuit and ask the judge to take action if there are problems.

In the next month, ASAP will continue to meet with USCIS and push them to process work permit applications faster. We hope that this will lead to more changes, and we will keep you updated here. We will also post the reports from USCIS about work permit processing times when we get them.

USCIS will make changes to the work permit form and instructions

ASAP has heard from many members that the work permit application form and instructions are confusing because they have old, incorrect information in them. ASAP has been trying to fix this problem.

This month, ASAP told the judge in the CASA lawsuit that USCIS had still not updated the instructions or the work permit application form. The judge told the government that she was very concerned that the instructions had not been updated. After the discussion with the judge, ASAP then had a separate meeting with the government and demanded that the form and instructions be fixed.

USCIS finally agreed that ASAP was correct and said they would update the instructions and form! USCIS said that they will update the work permit form and instructions by the end of August 2022. We will update you once the new instructions are on the USCIS website.

USCIS shares how to request a new work permit receipt

Many ASAP members told ASAP they needed a way to request new receipt notices for their work permit renewal applications. ASAP spoke to USCIS staff about members’ concerns, and USCIS responded!

To request a new receipt notice, you can email [email protected]. In the subject line of the email, you should write “Requesting New I-765 Receipt Notice.” In the email, you should include your name, your A Number, your mailing address, and the receipt number for your work permit renewal application (Form I-765). You should send this email within 6 months of receiving your original receipt notice.

Here are some reasons why you might want a new receipt notice:

  • You never received a receipt notice for your work permit renewal application.
  • You received a receipt notice that has missing or incorrect information.
  • You applied to renew your work permit before May 4, 2022, so your receipt notice says that your work permit is extended for only 180 days and you want a new receipt that says your work permit is extended for 540 days. (Please note: Even if your receipt notice says 180 days, it will automatically extend your work permit for 540 days, but some asylum seekers still want an updated receipt.)

If you send an email to the lockbox and you do not hear back within 30 days, please contact ASAP at [email protected] and we will tell USCIS that there is a problem.

July 22, 2022 Updates

New work permit delays and how ASAP is fighting back in the CASA lawsuit

Unfortunately, we have bad news this month: USCIS has stopped processing ASAP members’ initial work permit applications within 30 days. ASAP knows these delays are unacceptable, and we are fighting back.

Why the new delays are happening. 

For almost 2 years, USCIS had been processing ASAP members’ initial work permit applications within 30 days. This was because of ASAP members’ victory in the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit. However, during that time, USCIS was mostly ignoring the work permit applications of non-ASAP members.

In February, a judge ruled that the Trump administration’s work permit rules are illegal for all asylum seekers. Now, USCIS says they need to process all the old work permit applications they ignored. USCIS is using this as an excuse for why they cannot continue to process new work permit applications within 30 days. USCIS has asked the judge to end the CASA lawsuit and end the special protections for ASAP members.

What ASAP is doing to fight back. 

ASAP believes these delays are unacceptable and illegal. USCIS cannot stop processing ASAP members’ work permit applications quickly just because they have done a bad job processing other asylum seekers’ initial work permit applications.

ASAP is fighting to continue the CASA lawsuit and is demanding that USCIS process ASAP members’ applications within 30 days. On July 18, 2022, there was a hearing in the CASA lawsuit. ASAP attorneys told the judge that the case should continue and that the government was still not following the correct rules for work permit applications. During the hearing, the judge agreed with ASAP that the case had to continue! ASAP and the government will now submit written arguments to the court, and then wait for the judge’s final decision.

We are also asking the judge in a different lawsuit, AsylumWorks v. Mayorkas, to force USCIS to process all asylum seekers’ initial work permit applications within 30 days.

Unfortunately, it can take judges many months to make a decision. In the meantime, ASAP is going to try other ways to fight back. We will keep you updated and share opportunities to participate!

You should still submit your ASAP membership card with your work permit application.

ASAP still recommends that ASAP members include a copy of their membership card with their initial work permit applications. Including your membership card tells the government you are an ASAP member. If ASAP wins in court, a judge may make the government process the applications of members more quickly.

Learn more about how to submit a work permit application here.

200 members told USCIS how to improve work permit extensions!

Over 200 ASAP members responded when the government asked for the public to share opinions about the new policy to extend work permits for 540 days.

Thank you to all the ASAP members who shared your ideas with the government! 

In the June member update, ASAP included an optional survey for members to share their thoughts about the 540-day automatic work permit extensions. More than 200 members replied, and ASAP included their thoughts in one document (called a “comment”). ASAP submitted the comment to the government on July 1, 2022. You can read members’ ideas in the comment here.

Most members said that they approved of the 540-day extension. But most members said the government still needed to process work permits more quickly. Most members also said that it should be easier to access the 540-day extension and get driver’s licenses during the extension period.

We hope that the government will listen and make changes based on what ASAP members have shared. ASAP will reach out about other opportunities to share your ideas with the government in the future!

ASAP asked USCIS to make the 540-day extension permanent. 

In the comment, ASAP asked for the 540-day extension to be permanent. Currently, the 540-day extensions are temporary, and the policy will end after a few years. ASAP asked for the 540-day extensions to be permanent so that ASAP members and more immigrants can keep using the policy in the future. You can read more about the current, temporary policy here.

ASAP asked USCIS to make it easier for members to submit their ideas directly.

ASAP also asked USCIS to make it easier for ASAP members to share their ideas with USCIS directly. To do this, ASAP said that USCIS should accept comments in any language instead of only in English. ASAP also said the government should make it easier to submit comments on a mobile phone, and that the government should make sure to tell immigrants when it is collecting ideas from the public.

USCIS responded to ASAP’s requests for clearer I-9 forms and work permit receipts

Last month, ASAP members asked the government to fix problems with Form I-9 and work permit receipts. And USCIS listened!

USCIS revised Form I-9.

The problem: Form I-9 is the form that all employees must complete when they start their jobs. But the form did not make it clear that immigrants can still apply for a job even after their work permit expires, if they have an automatic extension. Many ASAP members told us that their employers were confused by the Form I-9 instructions and were not accepting their documents.

What ASAP did: ASAP submitted a “comment” asking USCIS to add clearer information to the Form I-9.

How USCIS responded: USCIS has now proposed a new Form I-9! The form will state clearly at the top that auto-extended work permits are still valid. We hope that with this new form, more employers will accept immigrants’ work documents.

USCIS mailed new work permit receipts.

The problem: If you submitted a work permit application between May and June 2022, USCIS most likely sent you an incorrect receipt notice that said your work permit was automatically extended for 180 days, not 540 days. To correct this first mistake, USCIS sent second receipt notices that said 540 days. However, the second receipt notices were still missing some information, such as date of birth. Many ASAP members reached out to us about this problem.

What ASAP did: ASAP reached out to our contacts at USCIS to tell them the government had made a mistake.

How USCIS responded: USCIS announced they would send out a third receipt. The new updated receipt should say that the auto-extension is 540 days and should contain correct information. We hope this will help many immigrants avoid losing their jobs because of a mistake made by USCIS!

June 16, 2022 Updates

Good news in the CASA lawsuit

Great news – after winning a court hearing, ASAP members can continue to get their first work permit application processed in 30 days!

On June 13, 2022, ASAP had a court hearing in the CASA lawsuit. At the hearing, ASAP won an extension of the protections that ensure that ASAP members get their first work permit processed in 30 days!

This hearing was important because there are still problems with the current work permit process.

  • Even though the government should now be processing initial work permit applications for all asylum seekers within 30 days, ASAP members and immigration attorneys have told us that this is only happening when asylum seekers include an ASAP membership card. Work permit applications for asylum seekers who do not include an ASAP membership card are usually taking longer than 30 days to process.
  • ASAP has also heard from many ASAP members who are confused because the instructions on the work permit application form (Form I-765) have out-of-date information.

At the hearing, ASAP explained these problems to the judge. ASAP asked the judge to continue to force the government to process ASAP members’ work permit applications in 30 days. The government disagreed, and asked the judge to remove the court order that forces the government to process ASAP members’ work permit applications in 30 days. The government also asked the judge to end the CASA case entirely.

After listening to the arguments, the judge agreed with ASAP! The judge did not end the CASA case. Instead, the judge decided to continue to protect ASAP members. The judge also encouraged the government to correct the work permit form and instructions quickly.

ASAP will be back in court for another hearing in the CASA lawsuit on July 15, 2022. 

The judge asked the government and ASAP to return to court for another hearing on July 15, 2022 at 9:00am Eastern Time. We will update this page with more information about how to join the hearing once we have it.

It is possible that the government will have more information for the judge and for ASAP on July 15, 2022. If the judge believes that the government has solved the problems, she will end the CASA lawsuit. If the judge does not believe that the government has solved the problems, she may again extend the court order providing special protection to ASAP members. We will continue to keep you updated when we know more.

In the meantime, if you are applying for an initial work permit, you should include your ASAP membership card!

USCIS responds to members’ concerns about work permit receipts

Good news! The government will resend correct receipt notices to immigrants who recently applied for a work permit renewal and got a receipt with incorrect information. 

Many ASAP members have told us that they received receipts from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with incorrect information. The receipts said that their work permits were extended by 180 days — not 540 days. This happened even after the government had announced that work permits for many immigrants had been extended by 540 days.

ASAP contacted USCIS to tell them that ASAP members were getting receipt notices with incorrect information on them. Less than a week later, USCIS announced it would resend correct receipt notices to immigrants who had received incorrect information on their receipt notices between May 4 and June 2, 2022!

Thank you to all the members who contacted ASAP about this problem!

ASAP asks for clearer, shorter work permit forms

ASAP has asked USCIS to make two important forms easier for immigrants and employers to use: the work permit application form (Form I-765) and the employment eligibility form that you fill out when starting a new job (Form I-9). ASAP asked for these changes because many ASAP members contacted us with questions or confusion about both of these forms.

First, ASAP asked USCIS to make a shorter work permit application (Form I-765) that is faster to fill out and easier to process!

ASAP asked USCIS to make the work permit application 2 pages. As you may know, the current work permit application form is 7 pages, but in the past it was only 2 pages. The longer form is harder for asylum seekers to fill out. The longer form also takes USCIS more time to process. Many ASAP members have contacted ASAP with questions about the form, as well as with concerns about long processing times. As a result, ASAP is now advocating for a shorter work permit application form.

ASAP also asked USCIS to remove incorrect instructions from the work permit application form. For example, the current work permit application instructions give incorrect information about the fees for a work permit renewal application. Many ASAP members’ applications were rejected because they followed these incorrect instructions that were written on the work permit application form. ASAP asked the government to fix the incorrect instructions so this does not happen to other people. If you are applying for a work permit, visit ASAP’s work permit page to learn how to apply using the correct instructions!

You can read ASAP’s request to the government about Form I-765 (called a “comment”) here.

Second, ASAP asked USCIS to update Form I-9 to make it clear that many immigrants can work for 540 days after their work permits expire.

ASAP asked the government to make the employment eligibility form (Form I-9) and instructions easier for employers to understand. Many immigrants, including many ASAP members, have benefited from a new 540-day automatic extension of their work permits. Currently, the I-9 form does not make it clear that immigrants can still apply for a job even after their work permit expires, as long as they have an automatic extension.

Many ASAP members have contacted ASAP to tell us that their employer was confused by the instructions in the I-9 form. That is why ASAP suggested new instructions for the I-9 that will make the form clearer. You can read ASAP’s request to the government about Form I-9 (called a “comment”) here.

ASAP advocates for work permits for asylum seekers at the border

As you may have heard, the government has started a new asylum interview process at the Mexico-U.S. border. The new asylum interview process only impacts asylum seekers who seek protection at the border after May 31, 2022. Most ASAP members will not be affected by the changes to the asylum interview process at the border.

ASAP asked the government to ensure that asylum seekers in the new asylum interview process can get a work permit.

The government’s new plan will make it difficult for some asylum seekers who arrive at the border after May 31, 2022 to get a work permit. ASAP members have told us that all asylum seekers should be able to work legally while they are in the United States — whether they are ASAP members or not. That is why ASAP decided to speak out about this new process, even though most ASAP members will not be affected directly.

ASAP asked the government to ensure that asylum seekers will still be able to get a work permit under the new interview process at the border. We will keep you updated about the status of this effort. In the meantime, you can read ASAP’s request to the government about the new asylum interview process (called a “comment”) here.

May 4, 2022 Updates

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 Updates

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!

Members win expedited processing for health care and child care workers

Thanks to ASAP members’ advocacy, health care and child care workers can now get their work permit renewal applications processed more quickly!

ASAP members have spoken out to the media about losing their jobs because of delays in processing work permit applications. Many ASAP members who have spoken to the media about losing their jobs are in the healthcare and childcare industries. They have talked about how not being able to work has not only been difficult for them, but for the patients and clients they take care of every day at work.

In response, USCIS announced that the government will be expediting work permit renewal applications for healthcare and childcare workers. If you are a healthcare or childcare worker, you can find more information about how to expedite your work permit renewal application here.

News in the CASA and AsylumWorks lawsuits

On April 8, 2022, the government decided not to appeal the decision in the AsylumWorks case.

In a lawsuit called AsylumWorks, a judge decided that the Trump work permit rules were illegal. The government decided not to challenge the judge’s decision. This means that the judge’s decision is now permanent, and the Trump work permit rules have been defeated! You can read more about the AsylumWorks decision here.

ASAP is still working to protect members’ rights through the CASA case. For now, you should include your ASAP membership card with your initial work permit application! 

Based on what ASAP members and immigration attorneys have told ASAP, when an asylum seeker applies for a work permit without ASAP membership, it is taking much more than 30 days. But when asylum seekers apply with their ASAP membership card, their application is processed in 30 days or less.

On April 12, 2022, ASAP had a hearing in the CASA case and raised this problem. The judge asked the government if USCIS was now processing work permit applications correctly, including processing all initial applications within 30 days. The government said no, they could not confirm that USCIS is processing everything correctly. ASAP then asked the judge to continue to protect ASAP members until we are sure that the government is processing all asylum seekers’ applications quickly.

Thankfully, the judge agreed. The judge decided that ASAP members should still be protected, and must continue to get their initial work permits processed within 30 days for now. The judge also ordered the government to report back in a month about how USCIS is processing work permits. On May 17, 2022, the judge will decide whether to continue the special court order forcing the government to process initial work permits for ASAP members within 30 days.

At least until the next hearing in CASA on May 17, 2022, we recommend that ASAP members include an ASAP membership card with their initial work permit applications. This is the best way to make sure that your application is processed within 30 days.

Fighting for funding to fix immigration backlogs

ASAP members are fighting to get the U.S. government to prioritize solving the issue of work permit delays – and it’s working!

ASAP members have spoken out about the importance of getting their work permit renewal applications processed quickly. The U.S. government is listening.

Last week, President Biden asked Congress to give USCIS $765 million to process applications for work permits, asylum, green cards, citizenship applications, and other immigration benefits. This request for funding is part of the President’s budget, which is sent to Congress every year as a request for funding the government. Now it is for Congress to decide if the $765 million will go to USCIS.

This month, ASAP staff will be meeting with the staff of members of Congress to talk about how important funding for processing work permits and other immigration applications is to asylum seekers. ASAP staff will be requesting that Congress require USCIS to use at least $70 million to process work permit applications. We will keep this page updated with any news.

March 9, 2022 Updates

What are the work permit rules in place today?

In last month’s update, we shared good news: a judge ruled that the Trump administration’s old work permit rules are illegal for all asylum seekers! However, we still cannot guarantee that the government has made the changes it needs to make for all asylum seekers to get their work permits quickly. That is why we recommend that ASAP members continue to submit ASAP membership cards with their work permit applications for now. We will update here as we learn more about how the government is processing work permit applications.

The following rules about INITIAL work permits are now in place for all asylum seekers: 

  • When to apply: In general, asylum seekers can request an initial work permit 150 days after submitting their asylum application (Form I-589). Asylum seekers can receive the work permit 180 days after filing their asylum applications.
  • Wait time: The government must make a decision on asylum seekers’ initial work permit applications within 30 days. However, unfortunately, this does not always happen. If you do not receive a decision within 30 days, learn what steps you can take.
  • Cost: Asylum seekers do not have to pay any fee to apply for an initial work permit. Asylum seekers do not have to pay the biometrics fee that applies to some other work permit applicants.
  • Other positive changes: Other old Trump administration rules no longer apply! For example, it is now easier to get a work permit if you crossed the border without presenting yourself, or if you applied for asylum after one year.

The following rules about work permit RENEWALS are now in place for all asylum seekers: 

  • When to apply: According to the government, asylum seekers should apply to renew their work permit at least 90 days before their current work permit expires. Because of long delays, ASAP recommends applying at least 6 months before your current work permit expires if possible.
  • Wait time: If an asylum seeker has applied for 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. However, we know that many asylum seekers have been waiting a long time for their work permit renewals and that the government is not following this requirement at this time. If your renewal application is delayed, learn what steps you can take.
  • Cost: Asylum seekers have to pay a $410 fee to renew their work permits, or request a fee waiver. Asylum seekers do not have to pay the biometrics fee that applies to some other work permit applicants.

Learn more about how to apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker here.

AsylumWorks lawsuit: We are waiting to see how the government will respond to the judge’s ruling that the Trump Administration’s work permit rules are illegal. 

On February 7, 2022, a judge ruled that the Trump administration’s old work permit rules are illegal for all asylum seekers. This decision came from a case brought by other organizations called AsylumWorks v. Mayorkas. The AsylumWorks lawsuit challenged the same work permit rules as the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit.

The government has until April 8, 2022 to appeal the decision in the AsylumWorks case. We do not know whether the government will decide to appeal or not.

If the government does appeal the judge’s decision in the AsylumWorks lawsuit, the case will go to a higher court to decide if the judge’s decision was right or wrong. If the government does not appeal the AsylumWorks decision, ASAP members will have won the fight to make sure the Trump administration’s work permit rules can never again harm other asylum seekers!

CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit: The judge in the CASA lawsuit is waiting to see what happens in the AsylumWorks lawsuit. 

Once the government has decided whether to appeal the AsylumWorks decision, the separate judge in the CASA lawsuit will decide what happens next in the CASA lawsuit.

Tony N. lawsuit: The judge in the Tony N. lawsuit about work permit renewal delays has dismissed the case. 

Visit this page to read our last update for the Tony N. case about faster work permit renewals.

ASAP will keep fighting to make work permits available to all asylum seekers, and we will update this page with all of our efforts!

Please follow this page for updates about how ASAP members and staff are working to make work permits faster and easier to get!

Members try to increase work permit auto extension

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

During a 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 work permit processing 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 or more. We will provide more updates about these advocacy efforts in a future update!

New bill introduced in Congress

ASAP is advocating for faster work permits in Congress as well! 

It is the number one priority of ASAP members that asylum seekers be able to get work permits faster after applying for asylum. That is why ASAP is working on other ways to get work permits to asylum seekers more quickly.

This month, ASAP worked with U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree from Maine and told her that ASAP members think it is very important for asylum seekers to get work permits quickly after applying for asylum. Congresswoman Pingree has introduced a bill (also known as “legislation”) that would allow asylum seekers to qualify for a work permit 30 days after applying for asylum.

You can read more about the bill here in this news article from the Portland Press Herald. This is just the first of many steps to turn this bill into a law that would impact all asylum seekers. We will keep working on this issue for years to come.

February 8, 2022 Updates

Good news! On February 7, 2022, a judge ruled that the Trump administration’s old work permit rules are illegal for all asylum seekers. However, we cannot guarantee that the government has made the changes it needs to make for all asylum seekers to get their work permits quickly. That is why we recommend that ASAP members CONTINUE to submit ASAP membership cards with work permit applications for now. We will keep our website updated as we learn more.

This new decision came from a separate case called AsylumWorks v. Mayorkas. This case challenged the same work permit rules as the CASA lawsuit. It was brought by a different group of organizations, and we are thankful for their efforts! Several ASAP members helped to bring the AsylumWorks case, and the case also used arguments that were first developed in the CASA lawsuit.

We are grateful to the 5,000 original ASAP members who brought the CASA lawsuit, and to every member who has fought to ensure that the government provides work permits to asylum seekers. By joining together, sharing your experiences, speaking to the press, and more, you have made it possible for thousands of asylum seekers to work!

The fight is not yet over. There is more work to do to ensure that the government follows the judge’s order and allows asylum seekers to access work permits. We are also still waiting to get a separate decision from the judge in the CASA case.

No matter what, ASAP staff will continue to fight alongside ASAP members for the ability to work! We will also continue to share monthly legal updates and opportunities to advocate for a better asylum process. In a future update, we will post information about how members can join ASAP’s private online communities, where you can ask questions to expert immigration attorneys and connect with other asylum seekers! You can read more about ASAP membership benefits here.

February 1, 2022 Updates

A hearing took place in January, and we expect the judge to make a final decision by the end of March. 

On January 18, 2022, the judge held a court hearing for the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit. Thank you to all the members who attended.

During the hearing, the judge said that she is almost ready to make a final decision in this case. We expect the judge to release the decision before the end of March, and we are hopeful that the decision will be positive!

At the hearing, the judge also asked ASAP and the government to submit additional arguments in writing. The judge wanted more information about ASAP’s argument that Chad Wolf — the top immigration government official during the Trump administration — was acting illegally when he made the work permit rules. You can read the arguments from ASAP here and the government’s arguments here .

If ASAP members win the lawsuit, applying for work permits would become easier.

If ASAP members win the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit, ASAP members would likely keep all of the current advantages they have in applying for a work permit. They would not pay the $85 biometrics fee. They could apply for a work permit 150 days after filing an asylum application. And they could get an initial work permit processed in 30 days. However, they would no longer need to submit an ASAP membership card with their work permit applications to receive these benefits.

In addition, some asylum seekers who are currently not allowed to receive a work permit, would be able to qualify for work permits. For example, some asylum seekers who came to the United States on or after August 25, 2020 without entering through an official border checkpoint are not currently allowed to receive work permits, even if they are ASAP members. If ASAP members win the lawsuit, these asylum seekers would be able to receive work permits.

January 14, 2022 Updates

You can listen to or watch the court hearing on January 18, 2022 by following the instructions below. 

Up to 125 people, including ASAP members, can listen to the court hearing by 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 (888) 808-6929.
  • If you are asked to enter a code, use this number: 6362869.
  • 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.

January 11, 2022 Updates

ASAP staff recently learned that in November and December 2021, USCIS failed to identify that many work permit applications belonged to ASAP and CASA members. This failure caused USCIS to process many work permit applications incorrectly.

ASAP learned this information from lawyers who are suing USCIS in another case. USCIS told the lawyers in the other case that USCIS has now fixed the issue. According to USCIS, this means that USCIS is now properly identifying and processing work permit applications for ASAP and CASA members again.

We do not know what USCIS’ failure means for ASAP and CASA members who applied for work permits during November and December 2021. We have reached out to USCIS to learn more, and we will update this page as soon as we have more information.

We are very sorry to share this news. We know that the ability to work in the United States is very important to you, and we will do everything we can to push USCIS to process work permit applications quickly and correctly for all ASAP members.

December 2021 Updates

[This update changed because the court has rescheduled the hearing from December 20 to January 18 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.]

The court has scheduled a hearing on January 18.

After many months of waiting, the judge in CASA v. Mayorkas has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

At the hearing, ASAP will continue to fight for asylum seekers’ ability to work. 

Until now, the judge in this case has said that ASAP members would not be impacted by some of the work permit changes the government wants. The judge said that ASAP members would not be impacted while the judge decided whether these changes are legal.

But many asylum seekers who are not members of ASAP have not been able to get their work permits, have had to wait longer, and have had to pay more money to get a work permit because of these changes. Here is more information to remind you about the rules for applying for work permits for ASAP members. 

Some of the government’s changes have also made it so that some asylum seekers cannot apply for a work permit at all, including ASAP members. Here are ALL the changes that the government wants to make permanent to make it harder for asylum seekers, including ASAP members, to get a work permit.

During the January 18 hearing, ASAP attorneys will try to convince the judge that ALL these terrible rule changes are not legal. Attorneys from the government will disagree and argue that these changes are legal. Attorneys from the government will also argue that the judge should not make a final decision about some of these changes yet.

ASAP will work hard to fight back against the government at the hearing, just like we have in earlier parts of this case. For more information on the written arguments that ASAP previously submitted to the court, see the past May and July updates. You can also find copies of the written arguments on the CASA v. Mayorkas case page.

ASAP members who are interested may be able to listen to the hearing by phone.  

The court will make it possible for up to 125 people, including ASAP members, to listen to the hearing by phone. The hearing will take place only in English. If you decide to listen to the hearing, you will not be asked for your name and you will only be able to listen – you will not be able to speak during the hearing.

We will share the phone number and other details about how to listen to the hearing on this page on January 17, the day before the hearing. If you are interested, please check this page again on January 17 for details!

After the hearing, we will tell you once the court makes a decision. 

It is possible that the judge will announce her decision at the hearing on January 18, but she does not have to make a decision that day. We will tell ASAP members as soon as the court makes a decision.

What to expect if ASAP wins: 

ASAP has asked the judge to declare that all the rules that make it harder to get work permits are illegal. If the judge decides that the rules are illegal, then ASAP members will win the case!

That means that ASAP members would get to keep all the advantages they currently have in applying for a work permit: not paying the $85 biometrics fee, applying for a work permit after 150 days of filing an asylum application, and getting an initial work permit processed in 30 days. What would change is that ASAP members would not need to show they are a member of ASAP when they apply for a work permit. In addition to that, some asylum seekers, including ASAP members, who currently cannot apply for a work permit, would be able to get a work permit.

The judge could decide she is not ready to make a final decision in this lawsuit. ASAP asked that if the judge is not ready, that the judge instead declare that no asylum seekers will be harmed by the government’s rules until she makes a final decision.

What to expect if the government wins:

The government has asked the judge to declare that they do not need to process initial work permits for ASAP members and other asylum seekers within 30 days. If the judge in this case decides that the government is right, it would be bad for ASAP members. ASAP members would no longer have a guarantee that their initial work permit is processed within 30 days.

The government is also asking the judge not to decide yet whether the other terrible rule changes are legal or not. These changes include having to pay a $85 biometrics fee and having to wait 365 days after filing an asylum application to apply for a work permit. If the judge decides that the government is right, she would not make a final decision in this part of the case. But until she made a final decision, ASAP members would still be able to apply for an initial work permit with no biometrics fee, 150 days after filing an asylum application.

November 2021 Updates

ASAP members are waiting for a decision from the court.

As we mentioned in previous updates, ASAP submitted final written arguments in CASA v. Mayorkas at the end of July, 2021. At this point, we still do not know if the judge will ask ASAP attorneys to present our arguments at a public hearing or not. The longer we wait to hear from the court, the more likely it is that we will receive a written decision without having a public hearing. We will let members know as soon as we receive a decision from the court or have any major new updates to share!

While we wait for the court to issue a decision, ASAP members are also fighting for faster work permit renewal application processing! You can read more about ASAP members’ fight to end renewal delays here.

ASAP also updates our frequently asked questions about work permits for members. It may be helpful to check this page for the most up to date information.

October 2021 Updates

ASAP members continue to wait for a decision from the court.

ASAP members continue to wait for the court to make a final decision in the CASA v. Mayorkas case. As we mentioned in last months’ update, ASAP submitted final written arguments to the court at the end of July. At this point, we still do not know if the judge will issue a written decision or if they will first ask ASAP attorneys to present our arguments at a public hearing. We will let members know as soon as we receive a decision from the court or have any major new updates to share!

ASAP members continue to report long delays in renewal applications.

In the meantime, ASAP members continue to report that their applications to renew their work permits are taking a long time to process. We are exploring ways to advocate for members suffering as a result of these delays and we will keep you updated. You can also read more at the links below!

September 2021 Updates

We continue to wait for the court to act in the CASA v. Mayorkas case.

ASAP submitted final written arguments to the court at the end of July. What happens next in the case is up to the judge to decide. The judge may schedule a hearing where lawyers for ASAP can present arguments about why the Trump administration’s work permit rules should be eliminated. The judge may also choose not to schedule a hearing and simply provide a written decision. ASAP is hopeful that the judge will schedule a hearing so that we can explain the importance of acting quickly to help asylum seekers in need of work permits.

We do not know exactly when we will get a final decision from the judge, and there is no required timeline. However, most judges issue decisions in similar cases within six months after all written arguments are submitted, which would be by the end of January.

We will let you know as soon as we hear from the court and update you about any opportunities to support the lawsuit!

ASAP members report long delays for renewal applications.

As we wait for the court to take action, ASAP members continue to apply for initial work permits and to renew their work permits. The court order requires the government to process ASAP members’ first work permit applications within 30 days. However, there is unfortunately no requirement that the government process work permit renewal applications within a specific time period.

When you submit a renewal application, the government should send you a receipt notice (Form I-797C) to let you know they have received the application. (See the link for an example). Importantly, this receipt notice automatically extends your work permit by 180 days past its date of expiration. This means you can show your receipt notice to your employer to let them know your renewal application is pending, and that you can continue to work legally for an additional 180 days (about 6 months) after the date your work permit expires. For more information, read this government webpage.

Unfortunately, ASAP members applying to renew their work permits have told us that they are waiting over six months for their renewal applications to be processed. This means that some ASAP members’ renewal applications are not being processed until after the automatic extension period has expired, which may put them at risk of losing their jobs.

ASAP plans to take action about renewal application delays.

ASAP knows that work permit renewals are very important, and we believe long delays are unacceptable. We are exploring ways to advocate for members suffering as a result of these delays. We plan to reach out to the government and insist that they process ASAP members’ renewal applications within the 180 day automatic extension period, or else offer a further extension until members’ renewal applications are processed.

We will let members know if there are opportunities to participate in advocating for faster renewal processing.

We recommend that members submit their renewal applications as soon as possible.

In the meantime, because of the long delays, we recommend that members submit their renewal applications as soon as possible. You can submit your renewal application for a work permit based on asylum any time before the expiration of your current work permit. Given the ongoing delays, we recommend submitting your renewal application at least six months before the expiration of your current work permit.

Information on how to submit a work permit application, including renewal applications, is available here. Please also see here for general information about work permits for ASAP members, and here for frequently asked questions about work permits for members.

August 2021 Updates

Almost 100,000 ASAP members have received their work permits since September!

On August 4, we learned from the U.S. government that nearly 100,000 ASAP and CASA members have been able to get their work permits since the judge’s decision in September. Thank you to every ASAP member for your actions to make this possible! For information on how to apply for a work permit as an ASAP member, visit this page.

On July 27, ASAP submitted the final written arguments in the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit.

On July 27, ASAP submitted our final written arguments to the court. This is the 4th time we have submitted written arguments to the court since April. This time, our arguments focused on the specific issue of why the government should have to process initial work permit applications within 30 days. We also continue to ask the court to protect all asylum seekers’ ability to work, not just ASAP members, and block all parts of the Trump administration’s work permit rules. Read previous updates for more details.

The government also submitted their final written arguments on July 13. Now we are waiting for the judge to review all the arguments.

We are one step closer to a final decision in the lawsuit.

It is possible that the judge will schedule a hearing to hear arguments in person before reaching a final decision. But we are now one step closer to a final decision. If the judge is convinced by ASAP’s arguments, then the Trump administration’s unjust work permit rules will be eliminated. This means that all asylum seekers would be able to apply for a work permit under the process that existed before Trump changed the rules.

While we wait for the court’s decision, ASAP members continue to be protected by the court order when applying for a work permit. To learn more about work permits for ASAP members, you can read here.

We do not know when the court will be ready to schedule a hearing or reach a final decision, but we expect to have more information soon. In the meantime, we will continue to work alongside our members to protect asylum seekers’ ability to work!

The government is now processing over 95% of first work permit applications within 30 days.

Through another lawsuit called Rosario, ASAP members have successfully pushed the government to keep to its 30-day deadline for processing initial work permit applications! For months, ASAP members have reported when the government took longer than 30 days to process their first work permits. In response, the court in Rosario ordered the government to reveal exactly how many initial work permit applications it was processing within 30 days and how many of these applications were taking longer. Because of this pressure, the government is now meeting the 30-day deadline in over 95% of cases.

If the government has not processed your initial work permit application within 30 days, click here for information on how to report the problem. (Unfortunately there is no guaranteed processing time for renewal applications).

July 2021 Updates

This month, ASAP submitted written arguments asking the court to protect all asylum seekers’ ability to work.

As we explained in previous updates, ASAP has asked the court to protect all asylum seekers’ ability to work, not just ASAP members. The current court order, called a “preliminary injunction,” protects ASAP members, but the Trump administration’s work permit rules still apply to asylum seekers who are not ASAP members. ASAP has also asked the court to block all parts of the Trump Administration’s work permit rules, because some of them still apply, even to ASAP members. See below for more details.

This month, on June 15, 2021, ASAP submitted 20 pages of written arguments explaining in detail why the court should eliminate the rules. On June 15, the government also submitted written arguments disagreeing with ASAP and arguing that the court should not eliminate all of the Trump Administration’s work permit rules for all asylum seekers.

The next steps are more arguments and then we will wait for the court’s decision.

The judge has set a schedule for final arguments in the CASA v. Mayorkas case this summer. The government will submit its final written arguments on July 13. Then ASAP will submit our final written arguments on July 27. The judge might then ask lawyers from both sides to present arguments at a hearing. After that, the judge will review the case and make a decision about whether to eliminate the Trump Administration’s work permit rules for all asylum seekers.

If we can convince the judge to agree with us, the lawsuit will end and the unjust Trump Administration work permit rules will be eliminated. That means that all asylum seekers would be able to apply for work permits under the old rules instead. We do not know which side the judge will agree with or when we will get the final decision.

Whatever happens, ASAP will continue to work with our members to fight for asylum seekers’ ability to work!

June 2021 Updates

Good news: the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit will continue moving toward a final decision!

As we shared in last month’s update (below), ASAP asked the court in CASA v. Mayorkas to make a final decision and declare all of the Trump Administration’s work permit rules unlawful. The government does not want the court to make a final decision about whether the Trump rules are illegal. With help from ASAP members, ASAP explained to the court that it was important not to delay moving forward, and the court agreed with us!

The court gave the government and ASAP specific deadlines for filing multiple written arguments. Each side will use the written arguments to try to convince the court that it should win the lawsuit. The government will submit its final written arguments on July 13. ASAP will file our final written arguments on July 27. The court will reach a final decision after it reviews the arguments of both sides. In the meantime, ASAP members will continue to have the same rights under the court’s order in CASA v. Mayorkas that they had before.

Even though we cannot predict what the court will decide, ASAP members have good reasons to be optimistic. We have strong arguments that the Trump rules are illegal. Whatever happens, ASAP and ASAP members will keep fighting to protect the ability to work for all asylum seekers!

In another lawsuit called Rosario, the court ordered the government to report how quickly it was processing ASAP members’ initial work permit applications.

As we shared in April’s update (below), through another lawsuit known as Rosario, ASAP members recently complained that the government was illegally taking longer than 30 days to process their initial work permit applications.

On May 28, 2021, the court in Rosario issued an order. Unfortunately, the court refused to order the government to fix the delays by a specific date. However, the court did order the government to report exactly how many ASAP and CASA members’ initial work permit applications it was processing within 30 days—and how many of these applications it was illegally taking longer than 30 days to process. The court ordered the government to give it these reports once a month for the next four months. This way, the court will know whether the government is actually improving, or whether the court needs to order the government to do better.

We hope that these reports will keep pushing the government to respect the rights of ASAP members and process their initial work permit applications within 30 days. If you are an ASAP member and the government has not processed your initial work permit application within 30 days, click here for information on how you can demand your rights under the Rosario lawsuit.

May 2021 Updates

Currently, the court’s order protects ASAP members from some new work permit rules.

Last year, in the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit, ASAP asked a federal court to stop new rules from the Trump Administration that made it harder for asylum seekers to get work permits. In September 2020, at an early stage of the lawsuit, the court ordered the government to stop applying parts of the new rules to members of ASAP. This type of early court order is called a “preliminary injunction.”

Since the court’s order, the lawsuit has continued to move forward. For more information on ASAP members’ rights under the court’s order, click here.

In April, ASAP asked the court to protect more asylum seekers’ ability to work—not just ASAP members.

On April 20, 2021, ASAP asked the court to expand the current order (the “preliminary injunction”). With help from ASAP members, ASAP explained that the new work permit rules are still harming many asylum seekers. Right now, the court’s order only protects members of ASAP and another organization called CASA. ASAP asked the court to protect all asylum seekers from the new rules, regardless of whether they are members of ASAP or CASA.

ASAP also asked the court to block more parts of the new work permit rules.

ASAP also asked the court to expand the current order to stop the government from using any part of the new work permit rules. Right now, the government is still using some parts of the new rules to deny work permits for asylum seekers, including ASAP members. For example, the government can deny work permits to asylum seekers who have been convicted of certain crimes, even if they are ASAP members. The government can also deny work permits to some asylum seekers who crossed the Mexico-United States border after August 25, 2020, even if they are ASAP members. ASAP asked the court to block these parts of the new rules, too.

ASAP asked the court to make a final decision in the lawsuit.

On April 20, 2021, ASAP also asked the court to make a final decision in the lawsuit. We asked the court to declare that all of the new work permit rules are illegal for all asylum seekers. If the court agrees, the lawsuit will end and the new rules will be invalidated. That means that asylum seekers will apply for work permits under the old rules instead. This would be even better than expanding the current order (the “preliminary injunction”) because it would be final!

However, the government disagreed with ASAP’s request and asked the court not to make a final decision about whether the new rules are illegal. The Biden Administration says it might change the rules, which were created by the Trump Administration, so the court does not need to make a final decision.

ASAP asked the court to make a final decision anyway, because it will take months (or maybe even years) for the Biden Administration to change these harmful new rules without a court decision.

Even if the court is not ready to make a final decision and end the case now, ASAP will keep pushing to expand the court’s order (the “preliminary injunction”), as we explained above.

We are still waiting on a decision from the court on these requests.

The court has not decided whether it will make a final decision in the case, or whether it will expand the current order (the “preliminary injunction”) to protect more asylum seekers. The court has asked ASAP and the government to give it more information so it can decide how the case will move forward on May 14, 2021. We will keep you updated when we have more information. Whatever happens, ASAP and ASAP members will keep fighting to protect the ability to work for all asylum seekers!

Through another lawsuit, ASAP members continue to fight delays in processing their work permit applications.

Through another lawsuit known as Rosario, ASAP members are continuing to take steps to protect their rights. As we explained in last month’s update (below), ASAP members complained to the court in the Rosario lawsuit that the government was illegally taking longer than 30 days to process their initial work permit applications. Since then, the government has responded to these complaints and has said it is working to fix the delays. ASAP members are waiting for the court in the Rosario lawsuit to make a decision about the next steps.

We hope that the Rosario lawsuit will keep pushing the government to respect the rights of ASAP members and process their initial work permit applications within 30 days! If you are an ASAP member and the government has not processed your initial work permit application within 30 days, click here for information on how you can demand your rights under the Rosario lawsuit.

April 2021 Updates

ASAP members and other asylum seekers are holding the government accountable in court.

In last month’s update, we shared how ASAP members took action to protect their rights under the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit. After thousands of ASAP members came forward to report that the government was illegally taking longer than 30 days to process their initial work permit applications, the government finally admitted that this was a widespread problem, and it promised to fix the delays by the end of May.

Two weeks ago, in a different federal lawsuit called Rosario v. USCIS, ASAP members and other asylum seekers took another big step to hold the government accountable. (Rosario is a lawsuit brought on behalf of all asylum seekers applying for their first work permits and experiencing delays. This type of lawsuit is called a “class action lawsuit,” and the asylum seekers are called the “Rosario class.” ASAP members whose applications for their first work permits are delayed are members of the Rosario class.)

On March 25, members of the Rosario class complained to the court overseeing that lawsuit that the government was violating members’ rights by taking longer than 30 days to process their initial work permit applications. Based on the widespread reports from ASAP members, ASAP submitted evidence to the court showing that many ASAP members had experienced delays in their initial work permit applications, and that ASAP members had difficulty contacting the government about the delays. Using this evidence, the Rosario class asked the court to order the government to fix the delays. The government will respond next week.

This new step in the Rosario lawsuit will put even more pressure on the government to respect ASAP members’ rights and process ASAP members’ work permit applications within 30 days!

ASAP updated its instructions on how you can apply for a work permit as an ASAP member.

Last week, ASAP updated its website to provide new, more detailed instructions on how you can apply for a work permit as an ASAP member. To read these instructions and see a sample work permit application from an ASAP member, go here.

In addition, if you have a lawyer helping you apply for a work permit as an ASAP member, you can send them a one-page guide for lawyers available here.

Great news: After the Trump Administration appealed the court’s order in CASA v. Mayorkas in November, the Biden Administration withdrew the appeal last month!

Last fall, the Trump Administration appealed the court’s order in CASA v. Mayorkas to a higher court (also known as a “court of appeals”). The government asked the court of appeals to reverse the lower court’s order so that the government could take as long as it wanted to process ASAP members’ applications for their first work permits, charge ASAP members an $85 biometrics fee for their work permit applications, and force ASAP members to wait 365 days after applying for asylum in order to apply for work permits.

On March 23, before the court of appeals could decide the government’s appeal, the Biden Administration agreed to withdraw (or “dismiss”) its appeal. This means the government has stopped challenging the lower court’s order! The case is now back before the lower court, where ASAP will continue fighting to protect ASAP members’ ability to work.

March 2021 Updates

Over the past few months, we have asked for your help to protect the rights that you received from the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit. Because of your feedback, the government has finally agreed to fix its delays in processing members’ work permits applications!

Here are some questions you may have:

I applied for a work permit as an ASAP member, but it has been more than 30 days, so I think there is a delay. Is this happening to other ASAP members?

We are so sorry this has happened. You are not alone – over the past few months, many members of ASAP have reported that they have had the same problem. As you know, the government is required by law to process your applications in 30 days. We are sorry that you are suffering because the government is not following the law and processing your application quickly.

Using the information from members who told us about delays, ASAP demanded that the government fix the delays and told the government we would go to court again if they didn’t solve the problem. At the end of February, the government agreed that it was required to process your work permit applications within 30 days, and it admitted that it had not been following that requirement in many cases. Thanks to your feedback, the government has finally promised to fix the delays!

What is the government’s plan to fix the delays?

The government has finally promised to process delayed work permit applications from ASAP members. The government has also promised that it will finish processing these applications within 90 days from the end of February. The government promises that after these 90 days, it will consistently process new work permit applications from ASAP members within 30 days, as the law requires. To do all of this, the government is going to have more employees work on processing ASAP members’ work permit applications.

We know that 90 days is a long time, especially if you mailed your work permit application many months ago. The government’s plan does not mean that it can just ignore your delayed application for another 90 days. If you applied a long time ago, the government should be processing your application much sooner than 90 days. We will continue to demand that the government process your delayed applications as soon as possible. For more information on how to flag a delayed application to the government, please read this page.

How will we know if the government is actually fixing the delays?

ASAP will watch to make sure the government is improving the situation. Each month, the government will tell ASAP how many members’ work permit applications are still processing and how many members’ work permit applications are delayed. We will review this information to make sure the government is processing your applications as soon as possible. If the government is not making progress, we will demand that it do more to fix the delays.

What else can I do to follow up on my delayed work permit application?

We are waiting to hear from the government about what our members can do to make sure their delayed applications are processed as quickly as possible. Please check back soon for more information about what you should do if your work permit application is still delayed for more than 30 days.

In the meantime, if you are an ASAP member you may also have rights under a court decision called Rosario to have your work authorization application processed in 30 days. ASAP is not directly involved in the Rosario lawsuit, but we have posted instructions about how members can demand their rights under that lawsuit at this page.

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