Recently, there have been many issues regarding delays in work permits. Over the summer, USCIS accumulated a backlog of 75,000 cases in which the work authorization card was approved, but the physical card itself had not been produced. So many people were in the unfortunate position of having an approved work permit, but no actual card, and so not able to work.

As a result of a case in federal court, Subramanya et al., v. USCIS, et al., 2:20-cv-03707 (S.D. of Ohio) the federal court in Ohio has now forced USCIS to agree to produce the work permit cards, or EADs (Employment Authorization Documents), and given USCIS a schedule by which they must be produced and mailed out.

Additionally, because of the huge number of people with EAD approval notices but no physical card, on August 19, 2020, USCIS announced that employers can accept the USCIS approval notice in lieu of the physical EAD card for USCIS approvals dated on or after December 1, 2019 through December 1, 2020. Thus, the USCIS approval notice will count as a List C document for purposes of the Form I-9. See,

Aside from not producing EAD cards, USCIS has been sitting on work authorization applications for many months. Many applications are taking five to six and a half months to process. Meanwhile, many hard-working, honest immigrants are left without their work permit, and employers can be subject to penalties if they keep their immigrant workers on payroll. These are folks who qualify for work permits, but because USCIS is just sitting on their applications, many find themselves out of a job, and employers out of valued, skilled, and reliable employees.

The situation is even worse for asylum applicants, as USCIS recently came out with a new rule. Rather than having to wait 150 days after filing your asylum application in order to apply for work authorization, as of August 25, 2020, you now have to wait at least 365 days, a whole year, before you can apply for work authorization. Also, up until now, USCIS was required to adjudicate work permits for asylum applicants within 30 days. With the new DHS rule, the USCIS can sit upon work permit applications for months before issuing an approval. Not only that, but those asylum applicants who are applying for their work permit for the first time will now have to pay a $580 USCIS fee, whereas previously for asylum applicants their first work permit was free. Additionally, those asylum applicants who did not apply for asylum within one year of their arrival into the U.S. will be barred from applying at all until their case is granted. These new rules that harm asylum applicants are currently being challenged in the federal court in Maryland, in the case Casa de Maryland v. Wolf, 8:20-cv-02118 (Dt of Maryland, Southern Div).

If your work permit application has been unreasonably delayed, or you are an employer whose employee has a delayed EAD application, you may contact our office if you are interested in filing in federal court. Law Office of Heidi J Meyers, 11 Broadway, Suite 925 New York NY 10004 [email protected], 212-791-4007 or 646-508-5225.

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