Getting an Asylum-Based Work Permit Just Got Harder

By: Sylva Graham

On August 25, 2020, the new regulations governing asylum-based work authorizations (“work permits”) went into effect. These regulations make it more difficult for asylum seekers to obtain their work permits. Here are the changes in a nutshell:

  • Asylum seekers are now eligible for a work permit 365 calendar days after filing of their I-589 (asylum) applications, extending the waiting period from 180 days to 365 days.
  • USCIS no longer has to adjudicate initial work permit applications within 30 days.
  • Asylum seekers are no longer eligible to receive a work permit if they filed their asylum applications after the one-year filing deadline, unless an Immigration Judge or asylum officer finds that an exception is met. This applies to any asylum seekers who filed their asylum applications on or after August 25, 2020. This new rule does not apply to applicants who are unaccompanied alien children on the date of filing their asylum applications.
  • Asylum seekers who illegally entered the United States on or after August 25, 2020, without a good cause, are now NOT eligible to receive a work permit.
  • Asylum seekers at any time convicted of an aggravated felony and aliens who on or after August 25, 2020 have been convicted of a particularly serious crime or committed a serious non-political crime outside of the United States are NOT eligible to receive a work permit. This new rule applies to all initial and renewal work permit applications filed on or after August 25, 2020.
  • Asylum seekers will no longer be receiving recommended approvals from the asylum office based on which they were immediately eligible for a work permit, no matter how many days accumulated since filing of the asylum application.
  • Denial of asylum by the asylum office will result in an automatic termination of the work permit, effective on the date the asylum application was denied.
  • Denial of asylum by an Immigration Judge will result in termination of a work permit 30 days after the denial. If a timely appeal is filed, a work permit will be available only while the appeal is pending with the Board of Immigration Appeals. It will no longer be available while the appeal is pending in Federal Court (unless remanded).
  • Any delay requested or caused by the work permit applicant that is outstanding or has not been remedied at the time of the filing of the initial work permit application will result in a denial. There will no longer be “asylum clock.”


When applying for asylum and subsequently for a work permit, it is important to contact an experienced attorney to assure timely filing of the asylum application and to help you determine eligibility for a work permit and whether any of the bars and exceptions apply.