HOUSTON – We were recently talking about the new restrictions proposed by President Trump, to limit the possibilities of applying for or obtaining asylum in the United States.
Those restrictions are aimed directly at applications for asylum and the way they are adjudicated. However, the president’s administration has also taken other measures that affect asylum seekers in a way that is not directly related to their applications.
These are measures that restrict the ability of such applicants to apply for and obtain a work permit, as a consequence of having applied for asylum.
Beginning August 21, 2020, asylum seekers in the United States will be facing new — and very strict — rule changes in order to qualify for a work permit while they wait for adjudication of their asylum case.
Below we highlight the most significant changes.
Contrary to the previous process, where an asylum seeker could apply for a work permit regardless of when they submitted their asylum application, as of August 25, 2020, those who file their asylum after one year of entering the country , will be prevented from applying for a work permit, unless the government determines that they are subject to an extraordinary exception.
On the other hand, as of October 2, 2020, the application for the work permit will cost $ 550, compared to the $ 410 it currently costs.
On the other hand, asylum applications will go from being free to having a cost of $ 50.
As of August 21, 2020, those who can still apply for a work permit will have to wait an indeterminate time for USCIS to award said permit, whereas previously the agency only had a 30-day period to award said application.
Another change is that people who have been convicted of certain crimes or who are feared by the government that they have committed a serious offense outside of the United States will be barred from receiving a work permit.
Also, if the government determines that the asylum application has been delayed due to the applicant’s fault, for reasons such as requesting an office transfer due to moving or filing an amendment to her application, the work permit will be denied.
Finally, as of August 21, 2020, once the asylum application is denied, the work permit will expire automatically, instead of remaining in force for the entire time for which it was approved, or 60 days after the denial of asylum.
The exception to this new rule is if the asylum officer refers the application to the immigration judge.
I have no doubt that these measures are designed to prevent more people from migrating to the United States to request asylum.
Because in 2019, one million applications for work permits were filed in conjunction with asylum applications, according to USCIS statistics, it is clear that asylum seekers are exercising their right to a work permit since they need to generate money while they wait for their decision, so they can buy food and have a roof over their heads.
This situation worries us greatly, and we hope that the courts will declare these measures illegal, since if the ability to request this permission is so severely limited by these new changes, many of the people who need to emigrate to save their lives could decide don’t do it.
Remember that these expressions are educational in nature and do not constitute legal advice.
Naimeh Salem is a Texas Board Certified Immigration Attorney.