Asylum seekers, individuals arriving with humanitarian parole, refugees, and other new arrivals in the United States deserve the opportunity to support themselves and their families. However, our newest neighbors often face severe legislative and administrative barriers to receiving employment authorization documents (EADs or work permits) that allow them to work.
For example, asylum seekers are statutorily barred from accessing an EAD for 180 days after their asylum claim is filed. This “asylum clock” can be arbitrarily paused and further delayed due to opaque regulatory guidelines, and in practice it often takes eight months to over a year for asylum seekers to receive an EAD. Even those who are eligible for work permits face extended delays in receiving them due to inefficient and under-resourced processing within the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). While administrative regulations cite a required 30-day turnaround, work permit applications and extensions regularly take well over a year to process.
Barriers to work have devastating consequences for vulnerable new Americans and the communities they call home. In the midst of a historic labor shortage, we have the power to jumpstart local economies and fill needed vacancies — and ensure that our newest neighbors can swiftly achieve economic self-sufficiency. Efforts to restrict access to work permits serve only to harm local communities and exacerbate issues like homelessness; this is no way to treat those seeking a safe place to call home. Bold leadership from Congress and the administration is needed to improve access to work authorization and address unnecessarily lengthy, bureaucratic delays.
Contact Your Two Senators and One Representative Today!
On the right-hand side, you can send an email or receive a phone call that connects you to your Members of Congress
Sample Email/Script: “As your constituent from [CITY/TOWN] and [a person of faith/refugee/ member of my community], I urge you to support efforts to expand access to work authorization for asylum seekers, refugees, individuals who arrived with humanitarian parole, and other new arrivals in the U.S.
The opportunity to achieve economic self-sufficiency is a foundational American principle, and ensuring timely and effective access to work authorization has bipartisan support – and support from local community leaders across the country. I urge you to join in that support by
- Properly funding USCIS to address work authorization processing backlogs. While ongoing efforts to tackle backlogs at USCIS should be appreciated, Form I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization remain extremely delayed across multiple categories. Congress must provide robust funding to USCIS to address these delays in a timely manner.
- Supporting and cosponsoring H.R. 1325, the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act. This bill would reduce the required 180 day wait for asylum seekers to access work authorization to 30 days. It would also create longer periods of work authorization and make it easier to renew employment authorization documents (EADs).
- Hold the administration accountable for removing bureaucratic delays. The administration can and should ease access to work authorizations and improve efficiencies in EAD processing, such as by providing automatic renewals in more circumstances and prioritizing EAD backlogs. Specific recommendations for the administration can be found here: https://www.aila.org/advo-media/aila-correspondence/2022/letter-to-dhs-and-uscis-form-i-765-processing.
Barriers to work have devastating consequences for vulnerable new Americans and the communities they call home. In the midst of a historic labor shortage, we have the power to jumpstart local economies and fill needed vacancies — and ensure that our newest neighbors can support themselves and their families. Thank you.”
Contact the Biden Administration
On the right-hand side, you can send a tweet to President Biden and Director of USCIS Ur Jaddou
Amplify on Social Media: Find shareable graphics here and sample social media posts below, including some created by our partners at the Work Permit Advocacy Coalition.
1. @POTUS without a work permit, it is nearly impossible to find a stable job that pays a living wage. Yet asylum seekers and other new Americans must often wait over a year to receive access to work permits. It’s past time to address these backlogs!
2. Welcoming asylum seekers with dignity includes allowing them to work as soon as possible! Thank you @chelliepingree for recognizing how crucial this is for individuals and families seeking asylum. Congress must pass the #AsylumSeekerWorkAuthorizationAct of 2023!
3. In the midst of a historic labor shortage, asylum seekers and parolees are forced to wait for far too long to gain access to work permits. Congress and the administration must step up for them and the communities they call home by expanding access to work authorization.
4. Here are three crucial steps our leaders can take to ensure timely and effective access to work authorization for vulnerable new Americans:
- Properly fund USCIS to tackle application backlogs
- Pass the #AsylumSeekerWorkAuthorizationAct
- Remove unnecessary red tape
- Organizational Sign On Letter Addressing the Inefficiencies and Inequities in the Processing of Form I-765, Applications for Employment Authorization (December 2022)
- Cities for Action Leaders Call on DHS to Address the Inefficiencies and Inequities in the Processing of Form I-765, Applications for Employment Authorization
- Organizational Sign On Letter Calling for the End of the Asylum Clock
- Social Media Toolkit: Support the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act of 2023
- Court Vacates Two Trump Era Rules That Denied Work Authorization to Asylum Seekers
- DHS Suggests Asylum Seekers Should Get Used to ‘Homelessness’ After Stripping Work Permits
- Congresswoman Chellie Pingree Press Release: The Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act
- Newly Introduced Border Bills Would Cause More Chaos at the Border, Not Less