This article of Asap Membership Work Permit has grown rapidly in the last year and is currently the largest membership group for asylum seekers—families seeking safe haven in the United States after fleeing danger in their home countries.
We spoke with Swapna Reddy, an ASAP co-founder and a Chicago-based lawyer, technologist, and social entrepreneur, to learn more about the past year and what lies ahead.
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) filed a lawsuit in named CASA v. Mayorkas to overturn new rules that curtailed asylum seekers’ ability to work, and they won! Since then, we’ve continued to collaborate in the hopes of obtaining speedier and easier work permits.
Following the oral arguments in the CASA v. Mayorkas case, asylum seekers and advocates discuss the fight for work permits:
Asylum seekers and advocates held a press conference today to address the relevance of work permits for asylum seekers and where efforts to preserve asylum seekers’ ability to work lawfully are at.
The Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project (ASAP), the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), and an affected ASAP member all spoke during the conversation.
The call came after virtual oral arguments in the case of CASAde Maryland v. Mayorkas, which is currently before the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
The case opposes Trump-era policies that severely limit, if not completely remove, asylum seekers’ ability to work lawfully in the United States while their cases are being adjudicated.
The Biden administration has continued to fight these Trump-era directives in court, and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas has ratified one of the two rules at issue.
Judge Paula Xinis asked pointedly during today’s hearing whether “it was really the government’s view that there is no Congressional pronouncement that asylum is a core value of this country?”
“Being able to work and obtain a social security number has been the most important thing that has happened to my family since we fled injustice in Venezuela in search of liberty,” Dayana Vera de Ponte, an asylum seeker and member of ASAP, said.
I hope the government abandons its defense of anti-immigrant policies that make it harder for asylum seekers to acquire asap membership work permits.
I hope the US government and the judge, in this case, understand that as asylum seekers, we are trying to support our families, serve our communities, and contribute to the economy of this country. We don’t enjoy the freedom we came to the United States for until we get a work visa.”
“Removing the barriers to acquiring work permits erected by these rules would be a clear signal that the government is not above the law and must adhere to the bare minimum procedural standards when it makes new rules,” Linda Evarts, Senior Supervising Attorney at IRAP, stated.
We are hoping that the court will deliver this message to the administration and reinstate work authorization for all asylum applicants.”
“We continue to stand with the more than 225,000 ASAP members who have made it clear that being able to work is crucial to them,” said Zachary Manfredi, Litigation and Advocacy Director at ASAP.
Asylum seekers require work permits in order to support themselves and their families – to earn a living and pay for necessities such as rent, food, and medical care. Work permits are particularly important since they let asylum seekers obtain a social security number and so gain access to health insurance during the pandemic.
The Biden administration should not be endorsing these anti-immigrant measures, especially in light of the enormous labor crisis. Rather than making it more difficult for asylum seekers to work legally, the government should make it easier for them to do so.
We hope that the final judgment, in this case, restores asylum seekers’ access to legal employment and reaffirms that asylum is a “fundamental principle” in this society, as the Judge emphasized today.
Asap Membership Work Permit for Membership Information & Asylum EAD Rules for the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP):
ASAP members are now entitled to apply for work authorization 150 days after filing for asylum, and 180 days after receiving their asap membership work permit, thanks to a court order in the current litigation. They are exempt from the new regulation that requires non-members to wait 365 days before applying.
NON-ASAP MEMBERS WORK PERMITS:
Asap Membership Work Permit is presently contesting two new rules that would make it impossible for many asylum seekers to work legally in the United States.
A federal judge determined on September 11, that the new work authorization standards are likely illegal and temporarily barred the government from administering certain sections of the rules to members of ASAP and CASA.
However, even if an asylum applicant is not a member of ASAP or CASA, all of the regulations still apply to them. We’ll keep this page updated with any new information or modifications.
If you are a member of ASAP or CASA, please read this post to learn about your current work authorization eligibility. If you are not a member of ASAP or CASA, please read on to find out what you are now eligible for.
The guidelines are currently in place for asylum applicants who are not members of ASAP or CASA. The following sections of the rules are described in detail:
365-day waiting period: As of August 25, asylum claimants must wait 365 days (one year) after completing their asylum application before becoming eligible for a work permit, rather than the previous 150 days.
Asylum seekers who file their asylum application on or after August 25, and more than one year after arriving in the United States, will no longer be eligible for a work permit, unless and until an immigration judge finds that they qualify for an exception, or unless they are a child designated as an “unaccompanied minor.”
Unless they meet certain limited exceptions, asylum seekers who cross the border on or after August 25, and do not present themselves at a port of entry will not be eligible for a work permit.
Work permits will not be granted to asylum seekers who have committed or been convicted of specified crimes.
Automatic work permit termination: Beginning August 25, if an immigration judge denies an asylum seeker’s case and the asylum seeker does not appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days, or if the asylum seeker appeals but the BIA denies the appeal, the asylum seeker’s work permit will automatically terminate and will not be renewed.
The 30-day processing requirement will be repealed on August 21, and the government will no longer be required to make a decision on an initial work permit within 30 days. For further details, see this document.
The “deemed complete” rule should be repealed: Previously, an asylum application would be judged complete if it remained pending with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for more than 30 days without receiving agency action. USCIS can now reject an asylum application after it has been filed for more than 30 days.
Delays caused by applicants: Beginning August 25, the government will no longer be able to pause the asylum clock for specified reasons. Instead, if the government determines that there are “unresolved applicant-caused delays,” such as the asylum seeker missing a biometrics session, the government will deny work permit applications.
Biometrics requirement and fee: Beginning August 25, asylum seekers asking for a work permit will be charged an $85 biometrics fee.
Discretionary denials: Beginning August 25, the government will have the authority to decline requests for a work permit even if the asylum seeker meets all of the standards.
$0.00 for immediate membership for Asap Membership Work Permit:
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Asylum seekers are stuck in limbo due to a broken Biden pledge:
According to an immigrant advocacy group, major delays in the Biden administration’s issue of Asap membership work permit renewal documents to asylum-seekers in the United States have lost thousands of people their jobs, homes, and cars.
President Joe Biden promised to modernize the asylum system when he took office, but he has done little to address the problem, despite the high costs that the bureaucratic delays have forced on those who have applied for asylum in the United States and are legally staying here.
“A lot of folks are struggling in ways that aren’t related to their jobs. Houses are being lost. People are being evicted from their apartments.
They’re having trouble paying their mortgages. “In the thick of a pandemic, we have a doctor who has been unable to work for almost six months,” said Leidy Perez-Davis, policy director for the national nonprofit Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project.
“We have truckers who are unable to work not just due to a lack of a physical work permit, but also because their trucking license is related to the validity period of the Asap Membership Work Permit.”
One Venezuelan asylum seeker decided to speak to the Washington Examiner after waiting 11 months for her work visa to be renewed.
Joyce Manrique arrived in the United States in 2017 with her son on a tourist visa. Manrique’s job and health insurance have been lost as a result of the government’s delay in issuing and mailing her a new work permit.
This is a significant loss because her son has special needs and relies on insurance to cover his medical expenses.
When Manrique first arrived in Miami in 2017, she worked as a waitress, putting through 14-hour days to fund living and daycare expenses.
AN ARIZONA FARMER APPEALS TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO CLOSE THE BORDER
She petitioned for asylum four months after arriving in the United States. Migrants who illegally cross a land border into the United States from Canada or Mexico may apply for asylum while awaiting removal proceedings, but Manrique’s process is simplified because she received legal authority to enter the country in 2017.
She also requested a U visa, which is reserved for victims of abuse or crime, after a year in the country, claiming she was a victim of domestic violence. The work permits would allow her to support herself while she awaited the outcome of her asylum case, which might take up to five years.
The Obama administration’s standards for obtaining a work permit as an asylum seeker at the time required waiting 150 days before applying. She was granted a work permit and given a Social Security number, allowing her to work in the United States. Manrique was able to continue working in the sector she studied in college as a systems engineer for a cybersecurity firm in South Florida.
The employment permit, which was valid for two years, expires in March. Permits can be renewed for another two years, but they must be reapplied for through the Department of Homeland Security’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Changes to work permit rules made by the Trump administration in August 2020 “make it almost impossible” for asylum-seekers to obtain work permits, as they require applicants to wait 365 days to apply, preventing them from earning a living above the poverty line during that time, according to Perez-Davis.
The work permit application was expanded from two to seven pages under previous President Donald Trump, lengthening the time it takes to process an application.
Manrique was able to stay with the company since his work permit was automatically extended for six months. Rosie’s six-month deadline arrived in October 2021, and her employer requested her to depart.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Manrique said, adding that she has sought professional treatment to deal with the stress of being out of work while still caring for her son as a single mother.
ASAP, which represents 250,000 current and former asylum seekers, is requesting the Biden administration to prolong automatic work permit extensions from six to twelve months in order to avert employment losses.
Renewal applications take an average of eight to fourteen months to be approved; Manrique has waited 11 months. According to Perez-Davis, “thousands” of ASAP members are out of work as a result of the delays, and far more asylum-seekers who aren’t members are in the same boat.
ASAP and AsylumWorks, both based in Washington, have filed separate lawsuits asking the court to overturn a Trump-era rule that delays work permit applications for a period of time after an asylum application. A federal judge ordered the Trump rules to be repealed last week.
AsylumWorks founder Joan Hodges-Wu said in a statement that they are “hopeful” that USCIS will quickly implement the change, but Perez-Davis said the logistics of what happens next are unclear — other than the fact that asylum-seekers should soon be able to apply for their initial work permits after 150 days rather than 365 days.
Perez-Davis urged the Biden administration to provide an expedient remedy for asylum seekers like Manrique, who have lost their capacity to work and are suffering financially as a result of the bureaucratic process’s delays.
Manrique said she is qualified for unemployment benefits, but her immigration lawyer cautioned her against doing so because it could jeopardize her current and future applications. Last year, her driver’s license was revoked since it was linked to her work permit.
Despite her lack of a work permit, she was able to secure a temporary license.
“I’ll have to borrow money from a buddy to pay my bills.” “I’ve been surviving off my savings for the past few months,” Manrique explained. “All I want to know is when I’ll be able to acquire my paperwork so I can apply for a job and get my life back.”
Asylum seekers are one of 15 groups of workers whose work permits are being held up by bureaucratic delays.
In a statement shared with the Washington Examiner after the initial publication, USCIS defended its processing of work permit applications.
In an email sent Tuesday afternoon, a USCIS spokeswoman said, “Agency workers are addressing remaining processing difficulties and making modifications to core procedures to achieve greater efficiencies while protecting the integrity and security of the immigration system.”
He also stated that the agency received 2.6 million applications for employment documents from asylum seekers, immigrants, and temporary visitors in the fiscal year 2021, which was a record high.