Skip to main content

Asylum seekers, under a law established in 1996, have to wait almost six months before they can apply for work. The idea at the time of the law’s passage was that it would discourage people from illegally crossing the border and making fraudulent asylum claims to get employment. However, the backlog for asylum applications has soared as years have passed, hence, the wait time for decisions has also increased. As of July, there were 2.5 million pending immigration court cases.

The average processing time has become four years, which makes the six-month law currently in place of little consequence to discourage fraudulent asylum claims.

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security’s has reported that states California, New York, Maryland, and Illinois have the most asylees.

The right to asylum is part of immigration law, and the protections are the same as refugee status. The primary difference is the requirement that migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. have to do so from within the country or at one of the official ports of entry and not abroad.

The process itself is complex, involving several federal agencies. An asylum seeker may also need to work through the U.S. justice system when a case goes to immigration court. Thus, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced Los Angeles immigration lawyer for the best possible outcome.

Understanding the U.S. Asylum System 

Under immigration law, only some immigrants are able to work in the U.S. They must first apply for an Employment Authorization Document or EAD – a work permit. The only guaranteed way to get a work permit is to win your case.

Some asylum applicants will qualify for a work permit based on the time they’ve waited for a case decision from the U.S. government.

If you have a pending application and want to apply for an EAD – USCIS Form I-765, minimum of 150 days or more must pass without an initial decision on the application. The period was 365 days under the Trump administration, but this was reversed with the Biden administration.

If you have an urgent need for USCIS to decide on a work permit application, there’s the option to request expedited processing. For example, you may be eligible for an expedition if you have severe financial hardships.

While so many are calling on the federal and state governments to change how they allow asylum seekers to work, including employers, at an individual level, your best option is to work with a reputable immigration law firm in Los Angeles for the possible outcome.

The Law Office of Finnegan & Diba is a leading immigration law firm in Los Angeles, ready to help you navigate the very complex immigration process. For further information or to schedule a consultation with one of our expert immigration attorneys, please contact The Law Office of Finnegan & Diba at (213) 480-0292 or visit to learn more.

Leave a Reply