New Rules for Asylum Seekers for Employment Authorization


Asylum seekers face new rules to apply for an Employment Authorization Document since August 25, 2020. All new asylum seekers have to wait 365 days after applying for political asylum to be able to submit the documents for Employment Authorization Document (EAD/employment authorization card). Once the USCIS registered the application for political asylum and the applicant received the Alien number (A number), the applicant should wait 365 days, and then, the applicant can apply for EAD based on Asylum Pending Category.

All applicants who applied for asylum more than a year after the last entry (border crossing) into the United States (for example, the last entry means the applicant came in the U.S. in May 2008 and left the country in September 2008; then, the same applicant arrived in the U.S. in January 2017 and stayed in the country forever – that’s the last entry), regardless of their status at the time of applying for asylum, starting from August 25, 2020, the applicant would not be able to apply for EAD until the official authority (Immigration Officer or Immigration Judge) allows the applicant to do so. That how it works, the applicant was in the U.S. more than 1 year, then applied for asylum (after 365 days), and should wait for the interview or court to get a sort of permission to apply for EAD. During the interview the officer will decide if the applicant can or cannot apply for EAD.

But, if the applicant has already had an interview and the applicant’s case was transferred to court, indicating the reason of the one-year issue and refusal to apply for EAD, then the applicant needs to wait for the court to get a permission (consult with your attorney for any changes and exceptions). 

If the applicant has criminal case(s) and/or violations (for example, the applicant was arrested and convicted), then the applicant will not be able to apply for EAD without the officer’s or judge’s permission (consult with your attorney for exceptions). 


The Maryland District Court granted claims from two human rights organizations, Casa de Maryland, Inc. (CASA) and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) opposed the new USCIS rule in August 2020 to increase the deadline for applying for a work permit (EAD) from 150 days to 365 days. This decision provides the members of these organizations to apply for EAD as early as 150 days after the Immigration Service accepts the application for political asylum (form I- 589). Refer to their official websites for further details and

Photo by Evangeline Shaw


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