Work Permits

Click on the links below to read information about work permits for asylum seekers.

The Work Permit Rules

INITIAL work permits for 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.

Work permit RENEWALS for asylum seekers:

  • When to apply: The most important thing is to apply for your work permit renewal with plenty of time before the expiration date on your current work permit card. If USCIS receives your work permit renewal on or before the expiration date, your current work permit will be automatically extended after its expiration date.

According to the government, asylum seekers should apply to renew their work permit at least 90 days before their current work permit expires.

  • 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 supposed to make a decision on their renewal application before their current work authorization 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.
  • Auto-Extension: If your current work permit has expired and you have not received a new work permit yet, your work permit is automatically extended and you can continue to work. Read more about the auto-extension here.
  • Cost: Asylum seekers have to pay a fee to renew their work permits. As of April 1, 2024, the cost is $470 if you file to renew online, and $520 if you file to renew by mail. Asylum seekers do not have to pay the biometrics fee that applies to some other work permit applicants.

Note: In February 2022, a judge ruled that the Trump administration’s old work permit rules are illegal for all asylum seekers! It is no longer necessary to include your ASAP membership card in your work permit application. However, if you do include your ASAP membership card, it will not negatively affect your work permit application.

Initial Work Permits for Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers can generally apply for a work permit 150 days after submitting an asylum application. Scroll down or click on the links below to learn more. You can also watch this video about how to apply by mail, watch this video about how to apply online, and see this sample application packet.

Can I apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker?

Maybe! The U.S. government sets the requirements and process for applying for a work permit.

Generally, to be eligible to apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker:

  • You must have filed an asylum application (Form I-589) with either U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the immigration court.
  • At least 150 days must have passed since USCIS or the immigration court received your asylum application. If you are not sure how many days have passed, read more here.

Under the current rules, if you have a criminal conviction that the U.S. government considers an “aggravated felony,” you are not eligible for a work permit as an asylum seeker. If you have questions about a criminal conviction or your ability to apply for a work permit, you may want to consult with an attorney. Find legal help here.

How much does it cost to apply for an initial work permit as an asylum seeker?

Nothing! If you are applying for your first work permit as an asylum seeker, do not pay any fees and do not request a fee waiver. The filing fee does not apply to people who are applying for their first work permit. You do not need to pay any biometrics fee.

How do I complete my work permit application?

To apply for a work permit online, watch this video and read this guide!

To apply for a work permit by mail, watch this video and read the instructions below. You can also see this sample application packet.

The instructions below are for preparing a paper application:

Here are the parts of your application packet as an asylum seeker, in order:

  • Form G-1145 (optional). If you want, you can include Form G-1145 to receive notices about your application by text message or email.
  • Form I-765. The very first part of your application packet after Form G-1145 should be your completed Form I-765.
    • You can download the most recent version of the work permit application (Form I-765) on this USCIS webpage.
    • If you are applying for your work permit based on your pending asylum application, your “eligibility category” on this form is “(c)(8).”
    • If this will be your first work permit in category (c)(8), you should check “Initial permission to accept employment” on Form I-765 – even if you already have a work permit in another category such as parole or TPS. You do not have to pay a filing fee to the government for your first work permit as an asylum seeker.
    • If a question does not apply to you, put “N/A”.
  • If you are applying to renew a work permit you already have, check box 1.c. on the Form I-765 and include a copy of your previous work permit.
  • 2 passport-sized photos. Print 2 passport-sized photos and write your name and A number in pencil or felt-tip marker on the back of the photos. Attach the photos to the top right corner of the first page of the I-765. For example, use paper clips or put the photos in a small plastic bag and staple the bag to the form.
  • A copy of your passport or another government identification document (“ID”) with photo in English. If the passport or government ID is not in English, include a translation of the ID and a certificate of translation.
  • If possible, evidence of submitting your asylum application. For example, you could submit a receipt notice from USCIS, the stamped first page of your I-589 application, or a copy of your next hearing notice in the immigration court.
  • If you included your spouse or child in your asylum application, you must file a separate work permit application for each family member. Your family member’s application should include each item listed above (with their own photos and ID), and also:
    • A copy of the first 3 pages of your asylum application (Form I-589), to show that you listed the family member.
    • A copy of a document showing proof of your relationship, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate. If the document is not in English, it must be translated and include a certificate of translation.
    • Other proof that you and your family member are part of the same case, such as a copy of your immigration court hearing notice showing both of your names, or USCIS asylum application receipt.
    • Work permit application packets for all family members can be mailed in the same envelope. But you should separate them with rubber bands or clips. You can also add a piece of paper on top of each application package saying, for example, “Family Member 1” and “Family Member 2”.

See this sample application for an example!

Is there an example of what my work permit application should look like?

Yes! Here is a sample work permit application and supporting documents from an ASAP member.

Where should I submit my work permit application?

There are two options for how to submit your work permit application: online or by mail. If you submit your work permit application online, you will most likely get your receipt notice more quickly.

Option 1: You can submit your work permit application to USCIS online. For more information, please see ASAP’s guide about the online work permit application.

Option 2:  You can submit your work permit application to USCIS by mail, FedEx, UPS, or DHL.

  • Click here to see where to send your application by mail. If you are applying for a work permit based on your pending asylum application, first scroll down in the menu to click “Asylees/refugees and their spouses and children”.  Then, under that, find the addresses listed for the “(c)(8)” category. These addresses may change, so make sure to check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date mailing addresses and instructions.
  • If you use FedEx, UPS, or DHL to send your application, make sure to include the line that says “Attn: I-765 C08 (650888)” in the address. If you don’t include this line, the government could delay your application.
  • If possible, get a tracking number for your application and save it! You will need it if the government delays your application.
  • If you can, make and keep a photocopy of everything that you send.

Can I file my initial work permit application (Form I-765) online?

Yes! If you have a pending asylum application, you can apply for your initial work permit online. The rules for who can apply are the same as for submitting an application by mail. For more information, please see ASAP’s guide about the online work permit application.

How can I apply for a work permit for my spouse or child?

You can apply for a work permit for your spouse or child if they are included in your asylum application or if they have their own asylum application. Either way, each person who wants a work permit must submit their own separate work permit application. For online filing, each person should also have their own USCIS online account.

If you included your spouse or child as part of your asylum application, you should add extra documents to their work permit application packet to show your family relationship. If your spouse or child submitted their own asylum application, they do not need to include the extra documents. See these instructions for more detail.

Why apply for a work permit for a child? Many parents want to apply for work permits for their children because it provides a form of U.S. government identification. Applying for a work permit also allows children to receive a social security number, which can mean access to government benefits like the Child Tax Credit.

How long will it take to get a response after I submit my initial work permit application?

If you are applying for your first work permit based on an asylum application, USCIS must process your application within 30 days. They should send you a decision by mail. Unfortunately, ASAP has learned that the government is delayed in processing initial work permits for asylum seekers. As of August 2023, the government is taking about 30 to 60 days to process many initial work permit applications. If you do not receive a decision from USCIS within 30 days, learn what steps you can take to address the delay.

You can check the status of your application by entering the receipt number on this USCIS website.

You can also get an estimated processing time for your work permit application through an online USCIS account.

  • If you submitted your work permit application by mail, first, wait for USCIS to send you a receipt notice and online access code. Then, log in to your existing USCIS online account or create a new account. Then, you can link the application to your online account using your receipt number and online access code.
  • If you submitted your work permit application online, the application should already appear in your online account.

A few days after your work permit application appears in your online account, you should see a tab called “myProgress” under your application. Click on the “myProgress” tab to see an estimated time left on your case.

How do I check the status of my work permit application?

You can use the USCIS online case status tool to find out the status of your application at this USCIS website. You can also call USCIS directly at 1-800-375-5283. Some people have reported that they have been able to get through to a representative if you say “Info Pass” loudly into the telephone when they ask you to explain why you are calling.

You can also get an estimated processing time for your work permit application through an online USCIS account.

  • If you submitted your work permit application by mail, first, wait for USCIS to send you a receipt notice and online access code. Then, log in to your existing USCIS online account or create a new account. Then, you can link the application to your online account using your receipt number and online access code.
  • If you submitted your work permit application online, the application should already appear in your online account.

A few days after your work permit application appears in your online account, you should see a tab called “myProgress” under your application. Click on the “myProgress” tab to see an estimated time left on your case.

I received a decision for my work permit application. What happens next?

If your work permit application is granted, congratulations! You should receive your work permit card in the mail. If you asked for a social security number, you should separately receive your social security card in the mail. You can check the expiration date of your work permit card to know how long your work permit is valid. Learn how to renew your work permit here.

If your work permit application is denied, we are very sorry. Read about possible problems and what you can do.

How do I know when I can apply for my initial work permit? How many days do I need on my asylum clock?

In general, you can apply for your first work permit 150 days or more after submitting your asylum application (Form I-589) to USCIS or the immigration court. You can receive your work permit after at least 180 days have passed since you submitted your asylum application. The “asylum clock” measures the number of days that have passed since you submitted your asylum application. You can watch this video for more information.

If you submitted your asylum application to USCIS, you can check your receipt notice for the date that your asylum application was received. Then, add 150 days to find out when you can apply for a work permit. (For example, if your asylum application was received on September 1, 2021, you could google “150 days after September 1, 2021” to learn that you could apply for a work permit starting on January 29, 2022.)

If you submitted your asylum application to the immigration court, you can call the immigration court hotline to check how many days are on your asylum “clock.” Call the court hotline at 1-800-898-7180, press 1 for instructions in English, enter your A number, enter 1 to confirm your A number, enter 1 to confirm your name, and then enter 2 to learn the number of days on your clock. This video explains how to call the immigration court hotline in more detail.

If you call the immigration court hotline and the number of days does not seem correct, or the hotline says “there is no clock,” learn what steps you can take.

If you have questions about your ability to apply for a work permit, you may want to consult with an attorney. Find legal help here. Also, if you think you are probably eligible for a work permit, but you are not 100 percent sure, there is no harm in applying. The worst that will happen is that the government will deny this work permit application, but you can always apply again later. As an asylum seeker, you will not pay any fees with your application for your first work permit, and the government will be required to process it within 30 days.

I have a work permit based on parole. Can I also apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker?

Yes. If you have a work permit based on parole (category C11), you can also apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker (category C08). To apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker, you need to submit an asylum application and then wait 150 days. You do NOT need to wait for your parole work permit to expire.

You can follow these instructions to apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker.

If you have another work permit but this is your first work permit as an asylum seeker, you should mark that you are applying for “initial permission to accept employment” on the work permit application (Form I-765). That is because this new work permit will be a different category than your parole work permit. You do not have to pay a filing fee to apply for your first work permit based on asylum.

If you have not applied for asylum but are considering it, you can read about the decision to apply for asylum.

You can also learn more about parole work permits.

Can ASAP help me fill out my work permit application?

Unfortunately, ASAP does not have the capacity to assist with work permit applications at this time. However, you can search for legal assistance on our find help page.

You can also fill out a work permit application without an attorney. See above for information on how to fill out the work permit application on your own!

Work Permit Renewals for Asylum Seekers

If you apply to renew your work permit on or before the expiration date on your current work permit card, your work permit is automatically extended. We recommend submitting your renewal application at least 90 days before the expiration date. If your renewal is approved, USCIS should send you a new work permit that is valid for 5 years.

Please note: If you already have a work permit in another category such as parole or TPS, but now want to apply for your first work permit as an asylum seeker, you can apply for a free, initial asylum work permit instead of applying as a renewal and paying a fee.

Scroll down or click on the links below to learn more about renewing your work permit.

When should I apply to renew my work permit as an asylum seeker?

The most important thing is to apply for your work permit renewal with plenty of time before the expiration date on your current work permit card. If USCIS receives your work permit renewal application by the expiration date, your current work permit will be automatically extended for 540 days. Learn more about the automatic extension here.

You can submit your renewal application for a work permit based on your asylum application any time before your current work permit expires. According to the government, asylum seekers should apply to renew their work permit at least 90 days before their current work permit expires.

If you plan to submit your work permit renewal application by mail, make sure that it will be delivered to USCIS with plenty of time before the expiration date on your current work permit card. This way, even if there are delays with the mail, USCIS should still receive your renewal application before the expiration date and you can receive the extension. Find more tips about mailing documents here.

If you plan to submit your work permit renewal application online, make sure to submit your application on or before the expiration date on your current work permit card to receive the extension.

How do I renew my work permit as an asylum seeker?

You can renew your work permit either online or by mail.

To renew your work permit online, watch this video and read this guide! Please make sure to also:

  • Select “Renewal of my permission to accept employment” when you answer the question “What is your reason for applying?”
  • If you already have a Social Security card, select “No” for the question “Do you want the SSA to issue you a Social Security card?” You do not need a new Social Security card unless you lost your old one and need a replacement.
  • Include an image of your current work permit card (front and back) in the Evidence section.
  • You can pay the filing fee by providing your credit card or U.S. bank account information at the end of the online application. As of April 1, 2024, the renewal fee is $470 if you apply online or $520 if you apply by mail. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can request a fee waiver, but you will need to apply by mail. Read below for more information on how to renew by mail.

To renew your work permit by mail, watch this video and follow the instructions here. Please make sure to also:

  • Check box 1.c. on the Form I-765, for “Renewal of my permission to accept employment.”
  • If you already have a Social Security card, check “No” to Question 14 on the Form I-765 and skip to Question 18 on that form. You do not need a new Social Security card unless you lost your old one and need a replacement.
  • Include a copy of your current work permit card (front and back).
  • Include payment of the fee or an application for a fee waiver. As of April 1, 2024, the renewal fee is $470 if you apply online or $520 if you apply by mail.

Can I file to renew my work permit online?

Yes! If you have a pending asylum application, you can apply to renew your work permit online. The rules for who can apply are the same as for submitting an application by mail. For more information, please see ASAP’s guide about the online work permit application.

How much does it cost to renew a work permit as an asylum seeker?

If you are applying to renew your work permit as an asylum seeker, you must pay a filing fee or request a fee waiver (see below).

As of April 1, 2024, the renewal fee is $470 if you apply online or $520 if you apply by mail. You do not need to pay an extra fee for a biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment.

If you are submitting your work permit renewal online: you can pay the filing fee by providing your credit card or U.S. bank account information at the end of the online application. Unfortunately, USCIS is not accepting fee waivers with online applications.

If you are are submitting your work permit renewal by mail, there are a few different ways to pay the filing fee:

  • Money Order. You can buy a money order at a post office, a bank, and some stores. Make the money order payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. Write your A-number (for example, A# 000-000-000) somewhere on the money order. Include the money order on top of your renewal application.
  • Check. Make the check payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. Write your A-number (for example, A# 000-000-000) somewhere on the check. Include the check on top of your renewal application.
  • Credit Card. To pay with credit card, fill out Form G-1450. Include the form on top of your renewal application.
  • Fee Waiver Request. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can request a fee waiver. However, if USCIS rejects your fee waiver, they will also reject your entire work permit application. You will then need to file a new renewal application with the fee before your current work authorization expires in order to receive the auto-extension.
    • If you are planning to request a fee waiver, we recommend that you submit your renewal application at least 6 months before the expiration date so that you have time to re-apply if your fee waiver is rejected.
    • Please note that if you are requesting a fee waiver, you must prepare and mail a paper work permit renewal application. USCIS is not accepting fee waivers with online work permit applications.

You can also watch this video from USCIS for more information on how to pay the filing fee if you are submitting your work permit renewal by mail.

How long will it take to get my work permit renewal?

If you have applied for a work permit at least 90 days before your current work permit expires, the government is supposed to make a decision on your renewal application BEFORE your current work permit expires.

However, we know that the government often takes too long to make a decision, and many asylum seekers have to wait a long time for their work permit renewals. As of November 2023, USCIS is currently taking more than one year to process many work permit renewal applications.

You can check the status of your application by entering the receipt number on this USCIS website.

You can also get an estimated processing time for your work permit application through an online USCIS account.

  • If you submitted your work permit application by mail, first, wait for USCIS to send you a receipt notice and online access code. Then, log in to your existing USCIS online account or create a new account. Then, you can link the application to your online account using your receipt number and online access code.
  • If you submitted your work permit application online, the application should already appear in your online account.

A few days after your work permit application appears in your online account, you should see a tab called “myProgress” under your application. Click on the “myProgress” tab to see an estimated time left on your case.

While you are waiting for your work permit renewal, the good news is that your current work permit may be automatically extended! Learn more about the extension here.

Can I still work after my current work permit expires?

Probably! If your work permit is based on a pending asylum application and USCIS receives your renewal work permit application on or before the expiration date of your current card, your work permit is automatically extended for 540 days.

How do I get the 540-day extension as an asylum seeker?

To get the 540-day extension, USCIS must receive your work permit renewal application on or before the expiration date written on your current work permit card.

  • If you already applied to renew your work permit before April 8, 2024, you will receive the 540-day extension as long as you applied before your current card expired. This is true even if your receipt notice says that your work permit is extended for only 180 days. According to USCIS, you can show your employer your receipt notice and this USCIS webpage as proof of the 540-day extension.
  • If you apply to renew your work permit on or after April 8, 2024, and before your current card expires, USCIS should send you a receipt notice saying that your work permit is automatically extended for 540 days.

Learn how to submit a work permit renewal application here.

How long can I work after the original expiration date on my work permit card?

If USCIS receives your work permit renewal application on or before the expiration date, your current work permit is automatically extended for 540 days past the expiration date, or until you get your new work permit.

For example, if your work permit has a written expiration date of July 1, 2024, USCIS must receive an application to renew your work permit on or before July 1, 2024.

Then, you can google “540 days after July 1, 2024” to learn that you can continue using your work permit until December 23, 2025, or until you receive your new work permit. Or you can use the calculator on this USCIS webpage for employers (scroll to the bottom and click “yes”) to see your new expiration date.

How can I show my boss that my work permit has been extended for 540 days? 

You can show your employer your receipt notice and this USCIS webpage to help them understand the 540-day extension. The USCIS web page is also available in other languages—you can find translation links near the top of the page.

  • If you applied for a work permit on or before October 26, 2023, your receipt notice should already include information about the previous 540-day extension that ASAP members won in the past.
  • If you applied for a work permit between October 27, 2023 and April 7, 2024, your receipt notice probably says that your extension is only 180 days. However, according to USCIS, you can still use this receipt notice as proof that your work permit is extended for 540 days! You can show your employer your receipt notice and this USCIS webpage. We know that this is confusing. ASAP has told USCIS that they should issue new receipts that say 540 days to people in this situation. We will update this page as we learn more information.
  • If you apply for a work permit between April 8, 2024 and September 30, 2025, your receipt notice should include information about the new 540-day extension.

What if my boss is confused or has more questions about my work permit extension?

Your boss or employer can use the calculator on this USCIS webpage for employers to see your new expiration date.

If your boss or employer still has questions about your work permit extension, they can call this government phone number for employers, and a government official should answer their questions: 1-800-255-8155.

If you have questions about your work permit extension, you can also call a government number for employees: 1-800-255-7688.

Both phone numbers can receive calls in English and Spanish. The phone numbers are operated by a government office called the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

My work permit application is not based on asylum. Does the extension apply to me? 

Maybe! The 540-day extension applies to several types of work permits, but unfortunately it does not apply to all types. For example, the extension does apply to people who applied for work permit renewals based on:

  • a pending asylum application
  • winning asylum
  • winning withholding of removal
  • Temporary Protected Status
  • a pending application for permanent residence based on family or employment

You can visit this government webpage to see a complete list of work permit categories that are eligible for the extension.

Can I use this extension to renew my driver’s license?

Probably! Most states should accept this extension if you show your work permit card and your receipt notice when you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can also show them this USCIS webpage which explains the extension.

But each U.S. state has different rules about driver’s licenses for immigrants, and ASAP members sometimes report that they have different experiences even at different DMV offices in the same state. Learn more about driver’s licenses here.

What can I do if I did not receive the extension because I submitted my renewal application after my work permit had expired?

If you did not get the extension, or if you need to speed up the processing of your renewal for any other reasons you can click here to read steps you can take. (Even though the question says it is about work permits not based on asylum, you can still try the steps explained in the answer.)

Social Security Numbers

You can apply for a social security number at the same time as your work permit. Scroll down or click on the links below to learn more about social security numbers, including solutions to some common problems.

When I apply for a work permit, can I also request a social security card?

Yes. Most people who apply for a work permit also request a social security card (if they don’t have one already) because you need a social security number in order to be able to legally work in the United States. You can also use the social security number to file your taxes and apply for other benefits.

To apply for your social security card along with your application for a work permit, you must indicate this on the application.

  • If you are applying by mail, you can request a social security card on questions 14 through 17 of your Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
  • If you are applying online, you can request a social security card in the “About You” section at “Other Information”.

For more information on how to prepare and send your work permit application as an ASAP member, read these instructions.

I received my work permit a few days ago, but I haven’t received my social security card yet. Is this normal?

Yes. Even if you applied for a work permit and a social security card on your Form I-765, your social security card usually arrives separately from your work permit. This is because the work permit and social security card are issued by different government agencies. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues your work permit. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issues your social security card. If you received your work permit a few weeks ago but still haven’t received your social security card, you should contact your local social security office.

I have a question about social security numbers, my social security card is delayed, or I need to correct a mistake on my card. What can I do?

If you have questions about social security numbers, you can contact your local Social Security Administration office. You should also contact your local office if there is a mistake on your social security card, or you received your work permit a few weeks ago but still haven’t received your social security card.

To find your local office, enter your zip code in the box that says “ZIP” on this Social Security office website. The website should then show an address for the office closest to you, and a phone number. You can call or go in person to the office to ask questions. You can also call the national Social Security Administration number for help: 1-800-772-1213. You may not be able to resolve your issue over the phone. In that case, you can ask for an appointment, or go to the closest office as a walk-in without an appointment.

If you need to replace or correct your social security card, you can also find more information and the form by clicking this Social Security office application form.

My social security card hasn’t arrived, or arrived with one or more letters missing from my name. What can I do?

We have received reports from some ASAP members that their social security cards have arrived with letters missing from the end of their names. It is important to correct this mistake, because if your name is wrong on your social security card, it could be wrong in the Social Security Administration’s system. That means that if an employer checks your social security number, the result may not match your other documentation.

We have also received reports from some ASAP members that they haven’t received their social security cards at all. It is normal for your social security card to arrive a few days after your work permit, because the work permit and social security card are issued by different government agencies. However, if you received your work permit a few weeks ago and still haven’t received your social security card, you should follow up on this issue.

You can correct these mistakes by calling your local Social Security Administration office and making an emergency in-person appointment. To find your local office, enter your zip code in the box that says “ZIP” on this Social Security office website. When you call, you should let your local office know if you need your social security card to work, to get access to any benefit, or to file a tax return. In addition, if someone at your local office tries to tell you that you don’t need an emergency appointment and you can fix the issue over mail, you can explain to them that under the policies of the Social Security Administration (explained in this policy manual), you are never supposed to be asked to mail your immigration documents, so you need an in-person appointment.

You can also try going in person to your local office.

Delays, Denials, and Other Problems

Scroll down or click on the links below for information about how to address work permit delays and other common problems that asylum seekers experience. If you have more questions or if you are having a different problem, please email us at [email protected].

What can I do if I have been waiting more than 30 days for my initial work permit as an asylum seeker?

*If you are trying to renew your current work permit, please see the question below on renewal delays. This answer only applies to initial work permits.*

Unfortunately, we know that USCIS is delayed in processing many asylum seekers’ work permits. The government is required by law to process initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days, but we know that they are taking much longer. We are sorry that you are suffering because the government is not following the law and processing your application quickly.

The next steps you can take depend on your situation, including whether you received a receipt notice for your work permit application.

*   *   * 

If you have received a receipt notice for your initial work permit application and you have been waiting 25 to 30 days or more, here are the steps you can take to tell the government that your initial work permit is delayed.

Step 1: Contact USCIS.

You have 3 different options for contacting USCIS online or by phone. You can choose 1 of the 3 options below. If one of the options does not work for you, please try a different one.

Option 1: By Phone.

  • Call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.
  • When the automated machine asks “How can I help you?”, loudly say “Rosario” or “Infopass” to reach a representative.
  • Once you reach a representative, tell them you are a member of the Rosario class.
  • You will need to provide the following information from your work permit receipt notice:
    • Receipt number
    • A-Number
    • Received date
  • Ask for a service request number. Sometimes USCIS representatives will not want to give you a service request number, but you should keep insisting. Write your service request number down and save it.

Option 2: Online Chat.

  • Go to https://www.uscis.gov/.
  • A bar saying “Ask Emma” should appear at the upper right side of the page. Click on “Ask Emma.”
  • Once the chat function opens, type “live chat.”
  • When you are asked what topic of information you are looking for, click “Case Status.”
  • Then click “Connect to Live Chat.”
  • Enter your receipt number.
  • Once you reach a representative, tell them you are a member of the Rosario class, and ask for a service request number.
  • Write your service request number down and save it.

Option 3: Online eRequest form. 

  • Go to this eRequest website. Click on “Case outside normal processing time.” Then, fill out the next page with the information below.
  • Form Number: select “I765″
  • Form Sub Type: select “I765 – Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] – initial”
  • Receipt Number: enter the receipt number from your work permit receipt notice
  • Date Filed (MM/DD/YYYY): enter the “Received Date” on your work permit receipt notice
  • Applicant or Petitioner Information: enter your name, birth date and A number
  • Mailing Address: enter the address where you receive mail
  • Last Action Taken on Case: this question is asking about the last letter or notification you received from USCIS about your work permit application. Example: “I received an I-797C Notice of Receipt on [date].”
  • Email Address: this is to receive a response from USCIS and a confirmation of the request.
  • Filed By: If this request is for your own work permit, under the option “This form is completed by the” you should select “Applicant or Petitioner.” If this request is for someone else, you should select your relationship and fill out your name.
  • Security Check: enter the letters that appear in the image.
  • Once you fill out the form, click Submit.

Step 2: Wait 8 days and then send an email. 

After contacting USCIS, you should wait at least 8 business days (add 8 days from the date you contacted USCIS, not including weekends and holidays). Then, if your application has still not been processed, you can email the Texas Service Center (TSC) Class Action email box at [email protected].

The email should include this information:

Through this process, you are exercising your rights under a court decision called Rosario.

Unfortunately, we have heard that even after following these steps, many members are still waiting a long time to receive their first work permits. As of August 2022, the government is taking more than 90 days to process many initial work permit applications. You can learn more about how ASAP members are fighting to hold the government accountable for work permit application delays in our updates about work permit advocacy.

Step 3: Ask for assistance from your congressperson. 

If the first two steps do not work, you can try asking for assistance from your congressperson (Representative or Senator). They may be able to help get your application processed more quickly. However, they do not always agree to help. Even if they agree to help you, they may not be successful in getting your work permit processed more quickly.

To ask for help from your local congressperson, you can:

  • Find your Representative here and your Senator here.
  • Visit their websites or call their office to understand how to request assistance with your immigration case. Sometimes, you can submit a request through their website.

We know that these delays are unacceptable and ASAP is fighting for members’ initial work permits to be processed within 30 days! You can find the latest updates here.

What can I do if I have been waiting a long time for my work permit renewal as an asylum seeker?

We are sorry that you have not received your work permit renewal. Many ASAP members have been working together to address this problem.

If your work permit is based on a pending asylum application and you submit your renewal work permit application before the expiration date, your work permit is automatically extended. Learn more about the auto-extension here.

If you did not get the auto-extension, or if you need to speed up the processing of your renewal for any other reasons you can click here to read steps you can take. (Even though the question says it is about work permits not based on asylum, you can still try the steps explained in the answer.)

What can I do if my work permit is not based on asylum, and I have been waiting a long time?

Unfortunately, USCIS is delayed in processing many kinds of work permit applications. Unlike initial work permit applications based on a pending asylum application (category (c)(8)), many other kinds of work permits do not have a time limit for the government to process the applications. You can look up the normal processing times for your type of work permit application by going to this USCIS webpage.

If your work permit is delayed, the steps you can take depend on your situation: 

  1. Have you been waiting for your initial or renewal work permit longer than the normal processing time posted on this USCIS webpage? You can fill out this form to ask about your case.
  2. Are you a healthcare or a childcare worker? You may be able to ask to receive your work permit faster through a separate process.
  3. Did you apply for a work permit renewal before your current work permit expired? Your work permit may be automatically extended! This extension only applies to people with certain types of work permits, however. For example, it applies to work permits based on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and withholding of removal. But it does not apply to work permits based on parole. You can visit this USCIS webpage to see a complete list of work permit categories that are eligible for the extension, and read more about the extension policy here.
  4. Did you also apply for asylum? If you applied for asylum, you can also consider applying for a different work permit based on your asylum application. You may be able to receive a work permit faster that way. For example, as of October 2022, work permit applications based on asylum applications are being processed more quickly than work permit applications based on TPS.
  5. Do you have any other special circumstance, for example, an illness or emergency? You may be able to ask for USCIS to process your work permit faster. Here are the general steps you can take:
    • Call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. USCIS may ask you to submit proof of your special circumstances. You can find more information about this process (called a request to “expedite” your case) on this USCIS webpage.
    • After calling the USCIS Contact Center, you may also be able to request assistance from the “CIS Ombudsman’s Office.” You can submit a case assistance request online. You will need to attach a copy of your receipt notice.
    • Another option is to ask your congressperson (Representative or Senator) for assistance. You can find your Representative here, and your Senator here. Each congressperson generally has a different procedure for requesting help. Once you find out who your congressperson is, you can go to their website or call their office to understand how to request their assistance with your immigration case.

However, please know that unfortunately many times these requests for assistance do not work. The Ombudsman’s office or the Congressperson will not always agree to help. And even if they agree to help you, they may not be successful in getting your work permit processed more quickly.

What can I do if I did not get a receipt notice after submitting my work permit application?

The way you receive your receipt notice depends on whether you submitted your work permit application online or by mail.

  1. Online

If you submitted your work permit application online, the receipt notice should automatically appear in your online USCIS account within a couple of days. You should see a tab called “Documents” under your work permit application. Click on the “Documents” tab to find your receipt notice. If you do not see a receipt notice within a couple of days, you can send a message to USCIS from your online account inbox.

  1. By mail

If you submitted your work permit application by mail, you should receive a receipt notice in the mail within 30 days. If you have not received a receipt notice after 30 days, first, you should check whether your work permit application was delivered to USCIS. If you have tracking information from the mailing service you used (for example, the post office, UPS, or FedEx) for your work permit application package, you should track the package. Save a screenshot, take a photo, or print the webpage confirming delivery.

If your application WAS NOT delivered, you can contact the mailing service you used (for example, the post office, UPS, or FedEx). If your package was lost, you may need to resend your work permit application.

If your application WAS delivered to USCIS and you still have not received a receipt notice after 30 days, you can try to send an email to USCIS at [email protected].

  • If this is your first time applying for a work permit, you can use the email subject line “CASA/ASAP/Rosario.”
  • If you are applying to renew your work permit, you can use the email subject line, “Missing receipt notice for I-765.”
  • In the email, you can include your full name, A Number, mailing address, any tracking number you have for sending the application, the date that it was delivered to USCIS if you know, and an explanation that you have not received a receipt notice after submitting your work permit application (Form I-765). You can also attach a screenshot or photo of the tracking webpage from the mailing service that shows the package was delivered.

What should I do if I moved after submitting my work permit application?

If you have an application pending with USCIS, it is important that you update your address with USCIS so that you receive your work permit card at your new address.

You can update your address with USCIS online by using this USCIS change-of-address form (AR-11 form). You can also print the form and fill it out by hand, and then send it by mail to USCIS.

What can I do if my work permit application was denied?

We are very sorry that your work permit application was denied. Here are some common reasons why USCIS denies asylum seekers’ work permits and what you can do. 

  • Your application was rejected before February 8, 2022. If USCIS rejected your application before February 8, 2022, they may have used old Trump administration work permit rules that no longer apply. You can try to resubmit your work permit application!
  • You paid a biometrics fee. Asylum seekers do NOT have to pay any biometrics fee with their initial work permit applications or renewals. If you included an $85 fee and USCIS rejected your work permit, you can resubmit your application without the fee.
  • You paid a fee for your initial work permit. Asylum seekers do not have to pay ANY fee for an initial work permit based on a pending asylum application. If USCIS rejected your work permit because you included a fee, you can resubmit your application without the fee.
  • You did not pay the fee for a work permit renewal. If USCIS rejected your work permit because you did not pay the correct fee, you can resubmit your application with the fee or include a request for a fee waiver. Learn more about the fee for work permit renewal here.
  • Not enough days have passed since you submitted your asylum application. In general, you can apply for a work permit 150 days after you submit your asylum application and receive a work permit 180 days after you submit your asylum application. If you applied for your work permit too early, you can wait and resubmit your work permit application. However, if you think you applied at the correct time but USCIS still rejected your work permit, there may be a problem with your asylum “clock.” Learn more about the asylum clock here. You can also watch this video about the asylum clock.
  • There is no evidence of an asylum application. If you have not yet filed an asylum application (Form I-589), learn how to apply for asylum here. You can apply for a work permit 150 days after submitting your asylum application. If you did file an asylum application but USCIS says there is no evidence of it, you can try to resubmit your work permit application with evidence. For example, you could include a cover letter explaining when and where you filed your asylum application and a copy of the first page of your I-589 with a stamp from the immigration court. You may also want to talk to an attorney about your options. Find legal help here.
  • You have a certain type of criminal conviction. If USCIS rejected your application because of a criminal conviction, it is best to talk to an attorney about your options. Find legal help here.

If you have questions or if you are having a different problem, you may want to talk to an attorney about your options. Find legal help here. You can also send an email with your question to [email protected] and include a photo of your rejection letter from USCIS.

What does it mean if my asylum “clock” is not counting all the days since I submitted my asylum application?

The asylum “clock” is a tool that USCIS and the immigration court use to count the number of days since you submitted your asylum application. When you have 150 days on your clock, you can apply for a work permit. When you have 180 days on your clock, you can receive a work permit. You can watch this video about the asylum clock.

Unfortunately, sometimes USCIS or the immigration court stops the clock. If your clock does not have 180 days, your work permit will most likely be denied, even if you submitted your asylum application more than 180 days ago.

There are different reasons why your clock could be stopped, depending on whether you submitted your asylum application to USCIS or the immigration court.

If you submitted your asylum application to USCIS, your clock could stop if:

If you think that USCIS stopped your clock, you can call or email your local asylum office to ask for more information.

If you submitted your asylum application to the immigration court, your clock could stop if:

  • You asked for more time to find a lawyer
  • Your lawyer asked for more time to prepare your case
  • The immigration court staff made a mistake

Find more information on this immigration court chart about how certain actions can affect the clock. (This chart was written for attorneys and contains technical language.) Please note: as of spring 2023, filing a “motion to change venue” to a different immigration court does NOT stop the clock.

What can you do if you have problems with your asylum clock in immigration court?

If you think that the immigration court has stopped your clock by mistake, you can call the immigration court to ask for more information (scroll down to find your immigration court, then click on the name of the court on the left to find contact information). They may tell you how to contact the court administrator to request that your clock start again. The immigration judge can also re-start your clock when you have your next immigration court hearing and you accept a date for your individual (merits) hearing.

You may also want to find an attorney to help fix problems with your asylum clock. Find legal help here.

If your work permit was denied because you did not have enough days on your asylum clock, and you fix the problem, you can submit your work permit application again.

What can I do if I never received my work permit card and think it may have gotten lost in the mail?

First, check your case status in USCIS’s online case status tool. If USCIS mailed your work permit, they should tell you a tracking number on this page. Then, there are a few options you can try.

  1. If you have a tracking number, you can check the status of the package with the post office (USPS). You can also try to contact the post office to see if they can find the lost card. The general phone number is 1-800-222-1811.
  2. You can try submitting a request for a new card through this USCIS website.
  3. If the post office says that they lost the card, you can ask them for a document that explains the situation. Then, you can reapply for your work permit and include that document. Normally, USCIS will not make you pay the fee to re-issue a card that was not delivered, if you can show that USPS lost the card.
  4. If the post office says that they did deliver the card, you can still reapply for your work permit. However, unfortunately you will have to pay the replacement fee. As of April 1, 2024, the fee to replace your card is $470 if you apply online or $520 if you apply by mail. If you cannot afford the fee, you can submit a fee waiver request.

What can I do if I received my work permit card, but there is a mistake on it?

The answer depends on whether USCIS made the mistake in your work permit card or if you made a mistake on your work permit application.

If it was USCIS’s mistake, you do NOT have to submit a new application or a fee. Instead, you can:

  • Use this USCIS webpage to submit a service request to correct the error, and
  • Follow the instructions on this USCIS webpage (see “How to request a Correction to Your Notice or Document Due to USCIS Error”) to return your card that has incorrect information.

If it was not USCIS’s mistake, you have to submit a new work permit application (Form I-765). Unfortunately, you will have to pay a filing fee. As of April 1, 2024, the fee to replace your card is $470 if you apply online or $520 if you apply by mail. If you cannot afford the fee, you can submit a fee waiver request.

What can I do if I have tried contacting USCIS and they never answer?

You can use their online case status tool to find out the status of your application at this USCIS website. You can also call USCIS directly at 1-800-375-5283. Some people have reported that they have been able to get through to a representative if you say “Info Pass” loudly into the telephone when they ask you to explain why you are calling.

What can I do if I have a problem with my social security card?

Read here about steps you can take if there is a problem with your social security card.

What is ASAP doing to address delays and other problems?

ASAP members and ASAP staff are working together to fight for faster and easier work permits! Read the latest updates here.

Other Kinds of Work Permits, Not Based on Seeking Asylum

Scroll down or click on the links below for information about some other categories of work permits. This is not a complete list, and there are other kinds of work permits as well. You can also find more information on this USCIS website.

I was given “parole” when I came to the United States. Can I apply for a work permit?

Yes! If you received parole when you entered the United States and your parole is still valid, you can apply for a work permit.

What is parole? 

“Parole” is when the government gives you official permission to enter the United States and to temporarily remain in the country. However, not everyone who enters the United States receives parole. One way to check if you received parole is by checking your paper or online documents. You may have received parole documents that look like this, this, this, or this. A document that indicates that you received parole should also say how long your parole is valid for.

Here are two common situations where people receive parole:

  • If you entered the United States by scheduling an appointment made through the CBP One mobile app, you probably received parole.
  • You also probably received parole if you arrived through a special parole program (such as the program for Afghans, program for Ukrainians, and program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans).

How do I apply for a work permit based on parole? 

If you received parole and your parole is still valid, you can apply for a work permit immediately under the “(c)(11) category” on the work permit application form (Form I-765). You can submit your work permit application online or by mail. To apply online, you can click the blue “File Online” button on this USCIS webpage.

Should I apply for a work permit based on parole or based on an asylum application? 

The answer depends on your situation. There are some important differences between a work permit based on parole and a work permit based on an asylum application. You can read the list of differences below to help you decide which kind of work permit you want to apply for.

If you received parole AND filed an asylum application, you can also submit both kinds of work permit applications! You can apply for a work permit based on your asylum application even if you already submitted a work permit application based on your parole.

What are the differences between a work permit based on parole and one based on an asylum application?

Work permit based on parole (category (c)(11) on the work permit application form):

  • You can apply for a work permit immediately after receiving parole. You do NOT have to wait 150 days.
  • You must pay a fee for your work permit application. As of April 1, 2024, the fee is $470 for a work permit based on parole if you apply online, or $520 if you apply by mail. (Note: some people from Afghanistan or Ukraine do not have to pay this fee and can start working immediately after receiving parole. Learn more at these USCIS websites for Afghans and Ukrainians.)
  • If your work permit application is approved, your work permit will be valid only until your parole status expires.

Work permit based on an asylum application (category (c)(8) on the work permit application form):

  • You can generally apply for a work permit 150 days after you submit your asylum application.
  • There is no fee required to apply for your first work permit.
  • USCIS is supposed to process your application for your first work permit within 30 days after they receive it.
  • If your work permit application is approved, your work permit will be valid for five years.

What can I do if I have been waiting a long time for my work permit based on parole?

Read here for possible next steps.

I have won Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Can I apply for a work permit?

Yes! If you have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), you are eligible to apply for a work permit. People who have TPS are automatically allowed to work in the United States while their TPS is valid. Even though it is not required, you may still wish to apply for a work permit as proof of your identity and ability to work in the United States. If you do not have a valid work permit, you will need to show your employer other documents from this list to prove your identity and ability to work.

If you were approved for TPS, you can apply for a work permit using Form I-765. For Part 2 Question 27, you can put (a)(12) as your eligibility category. You also need to include evidence that you were approved for TPS, such as an approval notice or an order from an immigration judge. You must also submit a filing fee. As of April 1, 2024, the fee is $470 for a work permit based on TPS if you apply online, or $520 if you apply by mail. If you cannot afford the fee, you can submit a fee waiver request.

Unfortunately, there is no limit on how long USCIS can take to process your work permit application. USCIS is currently taking a long time to process work permit applications based on TPS. In most cases, your work permit based on TPS will expire on the same date as your TPS status. If TPS for your country of origin is re-designated or extended, your work permit may be automatically extended, or you may need to file new applications for TPS and work permit. Please check this USCIS webpage on TPS for the latest news and instructions for your country of origin.

Please note: if you already have a valid work permit based on another status or pending application, it may not be necessary for you to apply for a work permit based on approved TPS. For example, you may already have a valid work permit based on a pending asylum application. You can continue to use your current work permit.

If you are applying for both asylum and TPS, you may be able to receive a work permit faster if you submit a work permit application based on asylum, instead of TPS. As of June 2022, work permit applications based on asylum are being processed more quickly than work permit applications based on TPS. You can learn more about the process to apply for a work permit based on asylum. You may also wish to look for legal assistance.

Note: If you have been waiting a long time for your work permit, read here for possible next steps.

I have a pending application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Can I apply for a work permit?

Yes! If you have applied for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and meet the basic requirements for TPS, you are eligible to apply for a work permit even if USCIS has not made a decision on your TPS application. In fact, you can submit an application for a work permit at the same time that you submit your application for TPS.

You can apply for a work permit using Form I-765. For Part 2 Question 27, you can put (c)(19) as your eligibility category.  You will need to include a fee or submit a fee waiver request. As of April 1, 2024, the fee is $470 if you apply online for a work permit based on a pending TPS application, or $520 if you apply by mail.

Unfortunately, there is no limit on how long USCIS can take to process your work permit application. USCIS is currently taking a long time to process work permit applications based on TPS. If you are facing a long delay, you can follow the same steps described in our section on renewal delays (even though that link is about work permits for asylum seekers, you can follow the same steps).

Please note: if you already have a valid work permit based on another status or pending application, it may not be necessary for you to apply for a work permit based on a pending TPS application. For example, you may already have a valid work permit based on a pending asylum application. You can continue to use your current work permit.

If you are applying for both asylum and TPS, you may be able to receive a work permit faster if you submit a work permit application based on asylum, instead of TPS. As of June 2022, work permit applications based on asylum are being processed more quickly than work permit applications based on TPS. You can learn more about the process to apply for a work permit based on asylum. You may also wish to look for legal assistance.

Note: If you have been waiting a long time for your work permit, read here for possible next steps.

I have won asylum. Can I work?

Yes! After you win asylum, you can immediately work legally.

There are two ways to show an employer that you can work legally: (1) a new work permit based on winning asylum, OR (2) a document called Form I-94 that shows you won asylum. (Note: If you received a Form I-94 when you entered the United States, this will be a different, updated version of the document.) You can also use your Form I-94 to request a new or updated Social Security Card at your local Social Security Administration office.

The way to obtain a Form I-94 and a new work permit is different depending on whether you won asylum at USCIS or in immigration court.

If you won asylum after an asylum interview with USCIS, USCIS should automatically send you a new work permit and a Form I-94 that shows you have won asylum.

If you won asylum in immigration court, you may need to take additional steps.

USCIS may automatically mail you a Form I-94. The Form I-94 showing that you won asylum is the only proof of work authorization you need, but many people also want a new work permit as a form of identification.

  • If you want a new work permit, you can apply by mail.
    • To apply for a work permit by mail, complete Form I-765. For Part 2 Question 27, you can put (a)(5) as your eligibility category. You should include a copy of the decision granting you asylum. There is no fee if this is your first time applying for a work permit after winning asylum. If you do not already have a social security number, you can request one on questions 14 through 17 of your Form I-765.
    • Unfortunately, there is no limit on how long USCIS can take to process your work permit application. If you have been waiting a long time for your work permit, read here for possible next steps.
  • If USCIS did not mail you a Form I-94, you can request one at an in-person appointment.
    • You can request an in-person appointment with USCIS called an InfoPass appointment to receive a Form I-94. You may also be able to request a work permit at this appointment. You can do this by calling USCIS or using your online USCIS account.
    • By phone: call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283. When you are asked to explain what you are calling about, you can say “InfoPass” to speak with a representative. Then, you can tell them you won asylum in immigration court and ask for an InfoPass appointment.
    • Online: you can request an appointment on this USCIS webpage.
    • You can view and print your InfoPass appointment notice by clicking “View your appointment” on this USCIS webpage. Bring the appointment notice and the immigration judge’s order granting asylum to your InfoPass appointment.

I won Withholding of Removal. Can I apply for a work permit?

Yes! If you have won withholding of removal, you are eligible to apply for a work permit. People who have won withholding of removal are not automatically allowed to work in the U.S., so you will need to get a work permit in order to be allowed to work.

If you have won withholding of removal, you can apply for a work permit using Form I-765. For Part 2 Question 27, you can put (a)(10) as your eligibility category. You should include a copy of the immigration judge’s decision granting you withholding of removal. You can also request a social security number and a social security card on questions 14 through 17 of your Form I-765. There is no fee to apply for an initial work permit or a work permit renewal based on winning withholding of removal. Unfortunately, there is no limit on how long USCIS can take to process your work permit application.

Keep in mind that your work permit based on withholding of removal will expire after a certain period of time. You can find the expiration date on the work permit card. You should keep track of the expiration date and be sure to apply to renew your work permit (using Form I-765) before it expires. It’s a good idea to apply to renew at least 6 months before it expires. When USCIS sends you a receipt notice (or “Notice of Action,” Form I-797C) for your renewal application, this will automatically extend your work permit. For more information, please see this USCIS website.

Note: If you have been waiting a long time for your work permit, read here for possible next steps.

Are there even more kinds of work permits?

Yes! This is not a complete list, and there are other kinds of work permits as well. You can also find more information on this USCIS website.

Note: This page is for adults who are interested in seeking asylum in the United States. Our hope is that you will use the information to better understand the work permit process and take control of your case. However, this information is not a substitute for legal advice about your particular case. To look for legal assistance, visit ASAP’s find help page. To learn about how ASAP members and ASAP staff are working together to fight for faster and easier work permits, visit ASAP’s advocacy updates page.

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