work permit process

A Guide to the Work Permit Process for Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers are individuals who flee their home countries due to fear of persecution and seek refuge in another country. To support themselves and their families, many asylum seekers are eager to find work. However, without proper documentation it can be difficult for asylum seekers to find stable employment. A work permit is a legal document that allows asylum seekers to work in the United States while their asylum application is being adjudicated.

The purpose of this guide is to help asylum seekers navigate the work permit process. It will provide a comprehensive overview of the eligibility criteria, application process, and difficulties faced by asylum seekers during the work permit process.

Eligibility Criteria

Before applying for an immigrant work permit based on a pending asylum application, it is important to understand the eligibility criteria. When filing a work permit application with USCIS, the following must be included: 

  1. Proof of identity (i.e., copy of passport or government-issued ID);
  2. Proof that the I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, has been filed with USCIS or Immigration Court;
  3. Evidence that the I-589 is pending and it has been at least 150 days since it was filed with USCIS or Immigration Court;
    1. If an immigration judge denied the asylum application, evidence must be included to show there was a timely appeal filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)
  4. Proof of arrests and convictions (if applicable);
  5. Two identical passport-style photographs;
  6. A copy of last work permit (if renewal);
  7. Filing Fee (if renewal).

It is important to have all required documents in order, as missing or incomplete information can cause delays in the processing of the work permit application or a denial.. It is important to note that the requirements and processes for work permit applications for asylum seekers can change regularly with each administration and it is recommended that potential applicants consult with an immigration lawyer

General steps involved in the application process

  1. Gather necessary documents: This includes proof of identity and asylum application, as well as any additional documents required by the government;
  2. Complete the work permit application;
  3. Submit the application and required documents: Once the application is completed, it should be submitted along with all required documents;
  4. Once the application is submitted, a receipt notice will be issued and soon thereafter a biometrics appointment with USCIS will be scheduled (or notice that biometrics requirement is being waived);
  5. Wait for processing: After submitting the application, the asylum seeker will need to wait for processing. The timeline for processing can vary, so it is important to check the USCIS website for an estimated time frame.

One of the most significant challenges faced by asylum seekers during the immigrant work permit process is the denial of the permit. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including failure to meet eligibility criteria, missing or incomplete documentation, or no longer having a pending I-589 application.

We hope that this guide has been helpful in providing information and guidance on the immigrant work permit process for asylum seekers. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.


Angel Lalama

Angel Lalama
Angel Lalama is an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles who established Lalama Immigration Law to serve the immigrant community throughout the United States and abroad with high-quality legal representation with a customer service-focused approach.

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