Work Permits

May 4, 2022 Update: Great news! Work permits for many asylum seekers are now valid for 540 days after the expiration date! Thank you to all of the ASAP members who fought for this change! You can read more at this page.

In 2020, members of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) filed a lawsuit called CASA v. Mayorkas to stop new rules that limited asylum seekers’ ability to work — and won! Since then, we have continued to work together for faster and easier work permits. Click on the links below to read information about work permits for asylum seekers.

The Work Permit Rules

In February 2022, a judge ruled that the Trump administration’s old work permit rules are illegal for all asylum seekers! However, we have heard from asylum seekers and immigration attorneys that non-ASAP members are not receiving their initial work permits within 30 days. That is why we recommend that ASAP members continue to submit ASAP membership cards with their work permit applications for now. We will keep our website updated as we learn more.

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: 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 for 540 days 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. Because of long delays, ASAP recommends applying 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 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, you can still work for up to 540 days after the expiration date. This is a new policy that started on May 4, 2022, and is an increase from the 180-day auto-extension that was previously in place. Thank you to the thousands of ASAP members who worked together to make this change possible!
  • 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. Note that if USCIS rejects your fee waiver, it will delay your work permit application. You can read more here.

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 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.

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.

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 $410 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?

Watch this video and read the instructions below for information about how to apply for a work permit based on a pending asylum application! You can also see this sample application packet.

Please note that these resources still show how to include your ASAP membership card with your work permit application. 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.

Here are the parts of your application packet as an ASAP member.  Be sure to place them in this 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. If you are applying for your work permit as an ASAP member based on your pending asylum application, your “eligibility category” on this form is “(c)(8).” If a question does not apply to you, put N/A.
  • ASAP membership card. Right behind your Form I-765, include a printout of your ASAP membership card. Click here to view and print your card. If you are applying for your minor child who does not have their own ASAP membership, include a copy of your ASAP membership card right behind their Form I-765 in their application packet.
  • Proof of relationship in English (only if applying for your child). If you are applying for a work permit for your child, you should include a copy of your ASAP membership card right behind your child’s Form I-765. Right behind your ASAP membership card, you also need to include proof that you are their parent—for example, a copy of their birth certificate with your name and their name on it. If the birth certificate (or other proof of relationship) is not in English, you should also include an English translation with a certificate of translation.
  • 2 passport-sized photos. Print 2 passport-sized photos and write your name and A# 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.
  • A copy of your passport or another government 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 are applying to renew a work permit you already have, make sure to check box 1.c. on the Form I-765 and include a copy of your previous work permit.

Note: Every member of your family who is applying for a work permit needs to prepare a separate application packet, including their own Form I-765. Each packet should include the above documents in the correct order. The packets can be mailed together.

See this sample application for an example!

In addition, click here to see a translation of the Form I-765 into Spanish. You should only use this translation as a guide. Be sure not to submit the Spanish version of the form, because the government will only accept the form in English.

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 send my work permit application?

  • You will need to submit your work permit application to USCIS by mail, FedEx, UPS, or DHL. Asylum seekers applying for work permits under category (c)(8) cannot submit their work permit applications online at this time.
  • Click here to see where to send your application. If you are applying for a work permit based on your pending asylum application, you should use the addresses listed under category “(c)(8).” 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.

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

You can apply for a work permit for your child if they are included in your pending asylum application or have their own pending asylum application, regardless of how young they are. You need to fill out a separate work permit application packet for each 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. However, unfortunately, this does not always happen. If you do not receive a decision from USCIS within 30 days, learn what steps you can take to address the delay.

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. We recommend applying to renew your work permit at least 6 months before the expiration date.

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

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.

How do I know if enough time has passed to apply for my initial work permit?

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.

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.” The clock measures the number of days that have passed since you submitted your asylum application to the immigration court. 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.

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

May 4, 2022 Update: Great news! Work permits for many asylum seekers are now valid for 540 days after the expiration date! Thank you to all of the ASAP members who fought for this change! You can read more at this page.

An asylum seeker’s work permit is usually valid for two years. We recommend submitting your renewal application at least 6 months before the expiration date. Once you submit your renewal application, your work permit is automatically extended for 540 days. Scroll down or click on the links below to learn more.

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 on or before the expiration date, your current work permit will be automatically extended for 540 days after its expiration date.

Because of long delays for renewal applications, we recommend that you submit your renewal application six months before your current work permit expires. You can submit your renewal application for a work permit based on your asylum application any time before your current work permit expires.

When you submit a renewal application, USCIS should send you a receipt notice (Form I-797C) to let you know they have received the application. This receipt notice automatically extends your work permit by 540 days (about 18 months) past its expiration date. You can show your receipt notice to your employer to let them know your renewal application is pending, and you can continue to work legally for an additional 540 days after the date your work permit expires. For more information, read this government webpage.

So, if you submit your renewal application 6 months before your work permit expires and you receive a receipt notice that automatically extends your work permit for 18 months after your work permit expires, you will have 24 total months (2 years) for the government to process your work permit renewal application. This will help avoid a gap in your work permit being valid.

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

Follow these instructions on how to apply for a work permit as an asylum seeker. For a renewal application, please make sure to also:

  • Check box 1.c. on the Form I-765
  • Include a copy of your current work permit card (front and back)
  • Include payment of the $410 fee, or an application for a fee waiver

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 have to pay the $410 filing fee, or request a fee waiver. You should not pay or request a fee waiver for biometrics, because this fee is no longer required.

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. Include the money order on top of your renewal application.
  • Check. Make the check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 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.

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 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. Thousands of ASAP members told us about this problem and worked together to fight for change!

Thanks to members’ efforts, 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. Read more here.

I applied to renew my work permit, and I have been waiting a long time. What can I do?

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

Now, 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. We hope that this means that more asylum seekers and other immigrants can work in the United States without interruption! Click here to read about this policy.

However, you can only receive the 540-day auto-extension if USCIS receives your work permit application on or before the expiration date of your current work permit.

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.

Can I still work after my current work permit expires?

Probably! Starting on May 4, 2022, many asylum seekers can still use their work permits for 540 days after the original expiration date! This is an increase from the 180-day auto-extension that was previously in place. But you must apply to renew your work permit “on time” to receive this extension. 

What does it mean to submit my work permit renewal application “on time”? 

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. USCIS must receive your renewal application on or before that expiration date. For example, if your work permit has a written expiration date of July 1, 2022, USCIS must receive an application to renew your work permit on or before July 1, 2022.

How long can I work after the original expiration date that is written on my current work permit? 

540 days. If USCIS receives your work permit renewal application on time, your current work permit is automatically extended for 540 days past the original expiration date, or until your new work permit is issued. For example, if your work permit has a written expiration date of July 1, 2022, and USCIS receives your renewal application before July 1, 2022, your current work permit is automatically extended from July 1, 2022 to December 23, 2023, or until your new work permit is issued, whichever comes first. This means you can continue to use your current work permit card to work legally until December 23, 2023, or until USCIS issues your new work permit card.

I applied for my work permit renewal before May 4, 2022. Does the 540-day extension apply to my work permit? 

Yes. If you applied to renew your work permit on time and before May 4, 2022, the 540-day extension applies to you as long as your renewal application is still pending with USCIS.

Can the 540-day extension apply even if my previous 180-day extension has already expired? 

Yes. If you applied to renew your work permit on time and before May 4, 2022, the 540-day extension applies to you even if your 180-day extension has already expired. You can continue to use your current work permit card to work for up to 540 days after the expiration date on your work permit card or until your new work permit is issued, whichever comes first.

I am planning to apply to renew my work permit in the future. Does the 540-day extension still apply to me? 

Yes. If you apply to renew your work permit in the future, the 540-day extension will apply to you if USCIS receives your renewal application on time and before October 26, 2023.

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

These two USCIS web pages explain that work permits for asylum seekers now qualify for automatic 540-day extensions: handbook for employers and information for employers and employees. You can show these web pages to your boss to help them understand the new work permit extension policy. The second web page is also available in other languages—scroll to the bottom of the page to find translation links.

If your boss needs additional information, you can show them your I-797C receipt notice. You should have received this document from the government after submitting your work permit renewal application. You can see an example of an I-797C receipt notice here.

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

If your boss or employer has questions about your work permit extension, they can call this government phone number for employers, and a government official will 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 540-day extension apply to all types of work permits? 

No. The 540-day extension applies to several types of work permits, but it does not apply to all types. For example, the 540-day extension does apply to work permits based on a pending asylum application, based on a successful asylum application, based on Temporary Protected Status, and based on winning withholding of removal. However, it does not apply to many other types. You can visit this page to see a complete list of work permit categories that are eligible for the 540-day extension: https://www.uscis.gov/eadautoextend.

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

Maybe. Each state has different rules about driver’s licenses for immigrants. We are learning more about this issue and hope to share more information in the future. In the meantime, you can try to visit the website of or call the government office that issues driver’s licenses in your state.

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

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.

If you would like to apply for your social security card along with your application for a work permit, you must indicate this on questions 14 through 17 of your Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). For more information on how to prepare and send your Form I-765 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.

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.

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 info@asylumadvocacy.org.

  • Initial application delays: What can I do if I have been waiting more than 30 days for my initial work permit as an asylum seeker?
  • Renewal application delays: What can I do if I have been waiting a long time for my work permit renewal as an asylum seeker?
  • Change of address: What should I do if I moved after submitting my work permit application?
  • Denials: What can I do if my work permit application was denied?
  • Asylum clock: What does it mean if my asylum “clock” is not counting all the days since I submitted my asylum application?
  • Card lost in mail: What can I do if I never received my work permit card and think it may have gotten lost in the mail?
  • Mistake on card: What can I do if I received my work permit card, but there is a mistake on it?
  • Contact USCIS: What can I do if I have tried contacting USCIS and they never answer?
  • Social security card: What can I do if I have a problem with my social security card?
  • Taking action: What is ASAP doing to address delays and other problems?
  • See other questions about work permits.

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.*

The government is required by law to process initial work permit applications for asylum seekers within 30 days — and if the government hasn’t processed the application within 25 days, you can take steps to address the delay. We are sorry that you are suffering because the government is not following the law and processing your application quickly.

If your application is delayed, you have two options.

  1. If you sent your first application without an ASAP membership card you can try to send in a new work permit application, following these work permit instructions.
  2. Regardless of whether you applied with an ASAP membership card or not, you can follow the steps below to flag your application to the government.

To flag your application

First, you should check whether you received a receipt notice from the government. A receipt notice is a document mailed to you that confirms that the government received your I-765 application for work authorization. You can see an example of a receipt notice here.

If you HAVE NOT received a receipt notice for your I-765 work permit application:

  • Write an email directly to lockboxsupport@uscis.dhs.gov
    • Use the subject line “CASA/ASAP/Rosario.”
    • You will need to include your A-Number as well as any tracking number you may have for the application (from USPS, FedEx, DHL, or UPS).

If you HAVE received a receipt notice for your I-765 work permit application:

After your application has been pending for 25 days or more, you can follow the two steps described below to flag your application.

STEP 1: Use one of these 3 options to contact USCIS by phone or online.

Option 1: Online eRequest form. Go to this eRequest website. Click on “Case outside normal processing time.” Fill out the next page with this information:

  • Form Number: select “I765”
  • Form Sub Type: select “I765 – Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] and member of Rosario/CASA/ASAP”
  • Receipt Number: enter the receipt number from your USCIS receipt notice
  • Date Field (MM/DD/YYYY)
  • 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.
  • Click Submit

Option 2: 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, let them know you are a member of ASAP and a member of the Rosario class.
  • Ask for a service request number. Sometimes USCIS representatives will not want to give you a service request number, but you should keep insisting.
  • You will need to provide the following information:
    • (a) your I-765 receipt number
    • (b) your A-Number
    • (c) the “received date” on your Form I-765 receipt notice (or Form I-797, Notice of Action).
    • Write your service request number down and save it.

Option 3: Online Chat. Visit 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, let them know you are a member of ASAP and a member of the Rosario class, and ask for a service request number.
  • Write your service request number down and save it.

STEP 2: 8 business days after you call the Contact Center, if your application has still not been processed, you must email the Texas Service Center (TSC) Class Action email box at tsc.classaction@uscis.dhs.gov.

The email must include this information:

  • Subject line: “Rosario Class Action”
  • Send email to: tsc.classaction@uscis.dhs.gov AND asylumEAD@nwirp.org
  • In the body of the email include:
    • (a) your name;
    • (b) your service request number;
    • (c) the date you call the USCIS Contact Center;
    • (d) your I-765 receipt number;
    • (e) the date on your Form I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797, Notice of Action);
    • (f) that you are an ASAP member.

Through this process, you are exercising your rights under a court decision called Rosario. You can learn more about how ASAP members fought to hold the government accountable for initial application delays in our updates about work permit advocacy.

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. Beginning on May 4, 2022, USCIS extended many asylum seekers’ work permits for up to 540 days after the expiration date written on your work permit card. This means that you may still be able to work even if your work permit has expired. Click here to read about this policy.

If you did not get the 540-day extension or you still need to speed up your work permit renewal for other reasons, you can take the steps below.

Also, if you are a healthcare or a childcare worker, you may also be able to expedite your work permit renewal through a separate process.

Step 1: Check the Status of Your Renewal

If you already submitted a renewal application, you can check the status of your application on the USCIS website. You have to type in your receipt number. Your receipt number is located in the top left corner of your receipt notice (see example here), and usually begins with three letters.

Importantly, this receipt notice automatically extends your work permit by 540 days past the expiration date if you are within a certain category (such as applicant for asylum). This means you can show your receipt notice to your employer to let them know your renewal application is pending, and you can continue to work legally for an additional 540 days (about 18 months) after the date your work permit expires.

If you submitted your renewal application but have not received a receipt notice yet, or if you have questions about what the USCIS website is saying, you can also call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283. Sometimes you are able to talk to someone more quickly if you say “InfoPass” loudly into the phone when you are asked to explain what you are calling about.

Step 2: Check the Normal Processing Times

You can look up the normal processing times for renewal applications by going to this USCIS webpage and doing the following:

  • Under Form, choose “I-765 | Application for Employment Authorization.”
  • Under Field Office or Service Center, choose the service center where your renewal application is pending. You can find the name of the service center on your receipt notice (see example here), in the bottom left corner, where it says “USCIS Office Address.”
  • For example, if your application is pending at the Texas Service Center, your selections will look like this.

After you have made the correct selections, you can click the “Get processing time” button to see the normal range of time (minimum and maximum) it takes to process various types of work permit applications. You should look for the category “Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)].”

Unfortunately, at this time, even processing times over 6 months are considered “normal” by USCIS. For this reason, we encourage members to submit your renewal applications at least 6 months before your current work permit expires.

Step 3: Request Assistance

If your renewal application has been pending for longer than the maximum normal processing time, or if you are facing a special circumstance (for example, an illness or emergency), you may be able to request assistance from the CIS Ombudsman’s Office.

  • The CIS Ombudsman’s Office is an office located within USCIS that can sometimes help applicants resolve issues with their immigration cases.
  • You can submit a case assistance request online to the CIS Ombudsman’s Office. 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.

Sometimes the Ombudsman’s Office or your congressperson can help look into the long delay in your case and get your renewal application processed more quickly. However, these requests for assistance do not always work. When you submit these requests, you may wish to explain any reasons why you need your work permit renewed urgently,  especially if you have special circumstances (such as illness, domestic violence, or an emergency).

Please also note that you do not have to just choose one of these two options. You can choose to do one or both options, at the same time or at different times.

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 $410 fee for a work permit renewal. Work permit renewals for asylum seekers cost $410. If USCIS rejected your work permit because you did not pay the correct fee, you can resubmit your application with the $410 fee or include a request for a fee waiver.
  • 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.
  • 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 info@asylumadvocacy.org 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.

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
  • You moved far away and you asked to move your case to a different immigration court
  • The immigration court staff made a mistake

If you think that the immigration court has stopped your clock, you can call the immigration court to ask for more 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 of $410 or request a fee waiver.

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 need to submit:

  • Your work permit card that has the mistake.
  • An explanation of the mistake.
  • Proof that it was USCIS’s mistake. For example, you can include a copy of your work permit application containing the correct information.

You can submit this to the address in the bottom left corner of your work permit approval notice.

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 the $410 fee or request a fee waiver.

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. You can also watch this ASAP video for information about work permits based on parole, including instructions on how to apply.

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. You can check to see if you have parole status on the I-94 form, if you have one. You can see an example of what the I-94 form looks like at this USCIS website on I-94’s.

How to apply for a work permit based on parole: If you are eligible, you can apply for a work permit immediately under the “(c)(11) category” on the work permit application form (Form I-765). You can also watch this ASAP video for information about instructions on how to apply.

The difference between a work permit based on parole and one based on asylum: There are a few important differences between applying for a work permit based on your parole status versus applying for a work permit based on your asylum application.

For parole-based work permit applications (category (c)(11) on the I-765 form):

  • You can apply for a work permit immediately after receiving parole.
  • You must pay a fee for your work permit application ($410).
  • Your application may take many months to be approved. There is no time limit for the government to process your work permit application, and current wait times may be over six months.

For asylum-based work permit applications (category (c)(8) on the I-765 form):

  • You can generally apply for a work permit 150 days after you submit your asylum application.
  • There is no fee for your application for your first work permit.
  • The government must process your application for your first work permit within 30 days after it receives it.

If you received parole and ALSO filed an asylum application, you may be able to choose what kind of work permit to apply for. It may make more sense to apply based on your asylum application, because you do not have to pay fees for an initial application and the government is required to process your initial work permit within 30 days.

You can apply for a work permit based on your asylum application even if you already have another work permit application waiting to be processed based on your parole. In some cases, it may make sense to submit another work permit application based on your asylum application, because it could lead to faster processing.

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 fee of $410 or submit a fee waiver request.

Unfortunately, there is no limit on how long USCIS can take to process your work permit application. 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.

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. The fee depends on your age and whether you are submitting an application for TPS at the same time. Please go to this USCIS webpage and look under “Filing Fee” for the correct fee amount.

Unfortunately, there is no limit on how long USCIS can take to process your work permit application. If you are facing a long delay, you can follow the same steps described in our section on renewal delays.

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.

I have won asylum. Can I apply for a work permit?

Yes! Technically, if you have won asylum, you can work right away without needing a work permit. However, it can be difficult to get a job or a social security number without a work permit, so many people choose to apply for a work permit based on their asylum status. The process depends on whether your asylum case was at USCIS or in immigration court.

If you had an asylum interview with USCIS and the asylum officer granted asylum:

  • USCIS should automatically send you a work permit.

If you had a “merits” hearing in immigration court and the immigration judge granted asylum:

  • You can apply for a work permit using Form I-765.
  • For Part 2 Question 27, you can put (a)(5) as your eligibility category.
  • There is no fee if this is your first time applying for a work permit as an asylee.
  • You should include a copy of the immigration judge’s decision granting you asylum.
  • You can also request a social security number and a social security card 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 are facing a long delay, you can follow the same steps described in our section on renewal delays.

When your work permit based on asylum expires, you have two options:

  • If you have spent at least a year in the United States after receiving asylum, you can generally apply for a green card (permanent residence), using Form I-485. You can submit a work permit application, using Form I-765, at the same time. For Part 2 Question 27, you can put (a)(5) as your eligibility category. If you pay the fee for the Form I-485, you do not have to pay a separate fee for the Form I-765. If you are unable to pay the fee, you can request a fee waiver.
  • You can also apply to renew your work permit before it expires, without applying for a green card at the same time. You will have to pay a $410 fee, or request a fee waiver. 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 540 days past its expiration date. For more information, please see this USCIS website.

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. 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 540 days past its expiration date. For more information, please see this USCIS website.

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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