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USCIS Proposes More Effective and Efficient Processing of Work Authorization Requests for Asylum Applicants

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has recently proposed a change to several Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) laws. EADs, or a Form I-766, allows noncitizens to have a work permit. A work permit is a document that provides temporary employment authorization to noncitizens. There is currently a 30-day timeline associated with pending asylum applicants. Ninety days was needed prior to the expiration of a permit if the renewal was desired. This original timeline was enacted over twenty years ago.

The changes that USCIS is proposing is to remove the regulatory provision stating that the USCIS has 30 days from the date an asylum applicant files the initial Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization to receive, screen, and process applications. The pros of removing this time limit could potentially strengthen national security, maintain technological advances in identity verification, and further, deter those who may be attempting to defraud the legal immigration system. The USCIS Acting Director, Ken Cuccinelli, has backup this change by reminding us what the goal of the USCIS stated the following, “our first priority as an agency is to safeguard the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system from those who seek to exploit or abuse it.”

In addition to allowing themselves more time to review, screen and process applications, the USCIS is also proposing to change the laws requiring that applicants submit their renewal requests to the USCIS 90 days before the expiration of their work permit. This change would hopefully reduce confusion regarding employment authorization renewal, minimize gaps in employment, and ensure consistency.

The overall purpose of these changes is to ensure the USCIS has sufficient time to receive, screen, and process applications for an initial grant of employment authorization based on a pending asylum application and reduce the time needed to reapply for a work permit. This will prevent fraud and protect the immigration system. Because of this it will take more time and be more difficult to initially get a work permit. However, it will take less time to renew a work permit once you have received one.