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Jun 14, 2024 | Nancy Chen

Asylum Employment Authorization, Explained

Asylum seekers have to wait 180 days until they receive their Employment Authorization Document.

Our WeChat readers have reached out to us and asked how to check their asylum EAD clock. If you have not heard about it, the clock measures the period during which an asylum application has been pending with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum office and/or the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

Someone who has applied for asylum can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization after waiting 150 days from the time they filed their asylum application. Then, this person needs to wait for at least another 30 days for USCIS to grant employment authorization. In short, it takes an asylum seeker at least six months to receive legal permissions to work in the U.S.

This article will explain when the clock starts and ends, how to check your Employment Authorizaton Document (EAD) clock, and what to do after the clock reaches 180 days.

When does the clock start?

If the applicant first filed their application with an asylum office, the Asylum EAD Clock starts on the day the USCIS receives a complete asylum application through Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.

If the applicant first filed their application with EOIR, the clock starts when a complete asylum application is filed with the immigration court. If the application is referred from the asylum office to EOIR, the applicant may continue to accumulate time toward employment authorization eligibility while the application is pending before an immigration judge.

Cases pending with EOIR mean that someone is in removal proceedings and an immigration judge will decide if this person can remain in the U.S.

USCIS, on the other hand, can grant certain types of immigration status, such as Temporary Protected Status, family-based petitions, asylum for people not in removal proceedings, and more, immigration attorney Rebecca Press wrote to Documented in an email.

There are cases where people applying with the USCIS also have EOIR proceedings because EOIR cannot grant specific applications like family-based petitions and U-visas. In this case, if the USCIS granted the application, the immigration court could end the removal proceedings, according to Press.

If someone affirmatively applied for an immigrant status without presenting a defense against deportation, then this person would not have a process with EOIR, Press continues.

When does the clock stop?

If the applicant requested or caused any delays, the clock does not include these delays while the application is pending with USCIS and/or EOIR.

There are a range of scenarios where your EAD clock may stop accumulating the necessary 180 days.

For cases pending with the USCIS, the clock will stop if you fail to appear on your scheduled asylum interview date. You must establish good cause if you need to reschedule your asylum interview before or on the date of the interview, within 45 days after the interview date, or if your interview has already been rescheduled on one or more occasions.

If you need to reschedule after 45 days after the interview date, you have to establish “exceptional circumstances.” If you are required to receive and acknowledge your asylum decision at an asylum office but fail to appear, your clock will also stop and you will not accumulate time to count towards the EAD waiting period.

Immigration judges will adjudicate cases pending with EOIR and determine the reason for the conclusion of each hearing. You can check EOIR’s website to see the code for adjournment. If the adjournment is attributed to the immigration court or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), your 180-day EAD clock will continue to count. But if the reason is attributed to you, your clock will stop until your next hearing. The clock will also stop if you file a motion that delays proceedings, which is granted by the immigration judge.

Please refer to the document “The 180-Day Asylum EAD Clock Notice” by the USCIS to learn more about the circumstances in which your EAD Clock will stop.

Read More: Initial Immigration Court Appearance: How to Prepare

How do I check my asylum EAD Clock?

If the applicant is in removal proceedings before EOIR, they may call the EOIR hotline at 800-898-7180 (TDD 800-828-1120) (toll-free in the U.S.) or 304-625-2050 (local toll call) for specific information about their 180-day EAD clock. Additionally, you can use EOIR’s Online Automated Case Information System (“Online ACIS”) to get basic case hearing and motions information and in certain instances case decisions.

The hotline usually reports a calculation of the days between the date an application was filed with an asylum office or an immigration court and the date the immigration judge first decided on the application, excluding delays requested or caused by the applicant.

An applicant may sometimes accumulate more days than what the hotline indicates. For more information, please refer to the third page of this USCIS document.

After you accumulated 180 days, you can file I-756. USCIS has provided instructions on how to fill out the form.

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