Asylum Application Timelines in the US

The USCIS (US Citizenship & Immigration Services) and EOIR (Immigration Courts) have many pending immigration cases. The process of securing Asylum can therefore take an indefinite amount of time (sometimes years). Regardless of the type of asylum case (affirmative or defensive asylum case), expect to wait for some time. So, what should an asylum seeker be doing before getting approved?

What Should I Do in the Meantime?

Most people wonder if they can work or go to school in the US when their asylum case is pending? Well, you need employment authorization to start working in America legally!

Can I Work While My Asylum Case is Pending?

Yes! If you get permission to work. You need to file Form I-765 to get permission to work in America as you wait for your asylum application to be determined.

However, you can't seek employment authorization in America when seeking Asylum. The ability to apply successfully is based on timing. Applying for employment authorization should be done after applying for Asylum and not co-currently. What's more, you need to wait a year (365 days) after filing for Asylum.

Eligibility For Employment Authorization with Pending Asylum

If your asylum case is still pending a year after application, you can apply to work anywhere in America, including states like Austin TX. However, other conditions apply. For instance, you must have;

  1. Entered America legally on 25th August 2020 or after. There may be exceptions to this if entered unlawfully.
  2. Filed for Asylum within one year of entering the US (last arrival). However, an immigration judge or asylum officer can offer an exception to this filing deadline.
  3. Appeared for your scheduled USCIS interview, hearing before a judge (if any) and/or scheduled biometric appointment relating to Asylum or job authorization.
  4. Met the required description i.e., not described as per 8CFR 208.7(a)(1)(iii).
  5. Met the timeline guidelines with no asylum application-related delay.
  6. A Pending case. Individuals subjected to final asylum application decisions don't qualify.

What causes EADs (Employment Authorization Document) delays?

Since your ability to work in Austin TX or anywhere else in America as an asylum seeker is determined by the time taken for a person to be approved for work, it's important to understand what causes delays and how you can prepare for such delays. Common delays arise because of;

Requests for amendments to asylum applications. Such requests will delay adjudication or application proceedings. Failing to show up and receive or acknowledge receipt of a decision/s will also cause further delays. You should also brace for delays if additional evidence is requested during your asylum interview or when there is a timeline extension for submitting additional evidence.

If you miss your asylum interview and you aren't excused or miss your biometrics collection appointment and aren't excused by the USCIS, your asylum case will be delayed further. Although it's within an asylum applicant to reschedule interviews or ask for other timeline extensions, these requests cause additional delays.

Making a request to be transferred to another interview location or asylum office and requests to change addresses, among other personal information, will cause further delays. Most importantly, asylum applicants that use incompetent interpreters or fail to comply with any asylum eligibility requirement should brace for a lengthy process that delays their ability to start working.

For instance, a criminal record can also make it impossible to work when your asylum case is pending. Eligibility for employment authorization depends on the crime in question. Individuals with serious crimes in their records will not be eligible to work. They may also be denied Asylum.

However, an immigration attorney is the best-placed experts to advise on the best ways of securing work in the US when you have a pending asylum case.

FAQs About Working as an Asylum Seeker in the US

Do I need an EAD to Start Working in the US If My Asylum Application is Granted?

If your asylum case is accepted, you can begin working. An EAD isn't required to start working in the US as an asylee.

How Long Should I Wait to Start Working if I apply for Asylum?

Before 25th August 2020, asylum seekers had to wait 150 days to apply for work in America. The timeline has since changed to 365 days. The new regulations add other requirements for getting a work permit.

The complexities of being able to legally work in the US pending an asylum case and legal implications of illegalities require asylum seekers to get advice from a seasoned immigration attorney. Regardless of your circumstances, seasoned immigration lawyers can offer valuable advice.

How Do I Apply to Work as an Asylum Seeker?

Asylum seekers must submit Form I-765 alongside a receipt showing when they filed for Asylum, when the application was received and documents proving eligibility for lawful entry in America.

Can I Attend School While Waiting for My Asylum Case to be Determined in the US?

If your ability to work is complicated, you can choose to study. Because your stay is legally authorized when you have a pending asylum case, you can go to school. However, you may fail to qualify for internship and work-study programs that students in America enjoy because of their F-1 student visas. Higher learning institutions are also at liberty to grant you benefits such as in-state tuition rates or certain course credits.

Can I Move Within America if My Asylum Case is Pending?

Yes! You can move to or within Austin TX, or any other state in America if your asylum application is pending. However, you should notify immigration court or the USCIS of any changes in address immediately. Also, remember that actions like changing an address can delay your asylum case determination.

The complexity of getting refugee status or securing Asylum and working in the US calls for expert help. If you are seeking Asylum from Austin TX, or any other state in America and wish to work and/or study, hire or seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney.

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