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Asylum Clock for Work Permits

Work permits for asylum applicants are based on some strange laws. Notwithstanding, they are extremely important for those applying for asylum. After applying for asylum in the United States, you can be stuck waiting for an answer for years. While waiting, you will need to work to support yourself. To work and support yourself, you will need a work permit. Here’s where things get strange. For years, the law has said that when you file an application for asylum an “asylum clock” starts ticking. That clock must reach to 180 days before the government will issue you a work permit, though you have been able to apply after the clock hits 150 days.


Last month, USCIS posted a new rule extending this 180 days to 365 days. Why? Good question. The results are extremely detrimental to those who are in the United States applying for asylum. They cannot simply wait for a year in a foreign country with no income. This is especially strange coming from an administration trying everything possible to cut back on alien use of public benefits.


Now, however, pursuant to an injunction granted in a lawsuit brought by CASA and ASAP, if you are a member of CASA and ASAP, you can still apply for your work permit and be approved under the old 180-day deadline.


The asylum clock is extremely complicated and, even under the old 180-day rule, most applicants who bring their asylum cases in the Utah Immigration Court are unable to obtain work permits. This is because once you file your application for asylum in court, at your next hearing the Immigration Judge will ask if you want your case expedited or if you waive an expedited hearing. If you ask for an expedited hearing, your case will be heard extremely quickly, usually before the 180-mark. However, this typically will not allow most applicants the time needed to collect the evidence for their case. If you waive the expedited hearing, then the clock stops. If you ask for a continuance, the clock stops.


This is different if applying for asylum before USCIS. Here, your case is not likely to be called for an interview before the 180-day deadline. Even if it is, if you attend your interview and don’t request a continuance the clock keeps running.


In order to file your case with UCSIS, you must have entered the United States without having been placed in immigration proceedings (with a visa is best), file within the first year of arrival in the United States, or be a unaccompanied alien child. Others coming across the border are placed in immigration court proceedings and must file with the court.


As always, this is a brief guide intended to help you have a basic understanding of the law. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at 801-676-6548.

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