Work permit for asylum seekers in the U.S. now valid for two years

In the United States, foreign nationals who apply for asylum and receive temporary employment authorization now have one less concern if their cases are delayed for more than a year.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that work permits are now valid for two years, or 24 months.

This measure seeks to solve the agency’s backlog problems and optimize its resources, preventing asylum seekers from having to repeat the process every year while their cases are still unresolved.

Extension of the validity of work permits for asylum seekers

Effective October 5, USCIS increased the validity period of initial employment authorization documents or renewals from one to two years.

This measure applies to all applications under category (c)(8) pending as of October 5, 2016, as well as all applications filed on or after that date. Applicants with pending asylum claims file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization under category (c)(8).

Lilia Velasquez, an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Law, stresses that this extension of work permit validity not only benefits asylum seekers, but also undocumented youth protected by 2012 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

Many of these “dreamers” are experiencing delays in renewing their work permits and are frustrated at not receiving new cards on time.

Delays in renewing work permits for dreamers

A technical glitch is affecting hundreds of DACA dreamers who applied to renew their work permits between February 14 and June 22. As of the date of this article, they have not yet received their new cards, which has generated uncertainty and concern among these young undocumented immigrants.

DACA protects more than 728,285 young people who entered the United States as children from deportation and who must renew their employment authorization every two years.

Although USCIS has not specified how many dreamers are affected by these delays, it is clear that the backlog problem at the agency is affecting different groups of immigrants. That is why the extension of the validity of work permits for asylum seekers is considered an excellent idea by experts in the field.

Backlogs in citizenship proceedings and immigration court cases

In addition to problems with work permit renewals, there are other bottlenecks affecting thousands of potential new U.S. citizens and immigration court cases. USCIS reported that as of June 30, there were 524,014 pending citizenship cases, which could prevent these individuals from voting in the upcoming November 8 election.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University in New York revealed that at the end of July there were 502,794 cases backlogged in immigration courts.

This number has been increasing in recent years, which has generated growing concern among immigration judges and immigration attorneys.

National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) has warned about the dangerous growth of this problem and how it is affecting asylum cases, among others. Currently, thousands of hearings are being scheduled, some even for 2020, due to the lack of judges and the saturation of the system.

Although more judges have been added in recent years, the number of cases per judge remains high, with an average of 1,815 cases per judge.

Immigration backlogs nationwide

TRAC also reports that as of the end of August, immigration cases on average were taking 671 days nationwide. However, some states such as Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan, New Jersey, California, and Texas have longer immigration court backlogs, with delays exceeding 700 days in some cases.

These delays in citizenship proceedings and immigration cases have a significant impact on the lives of applicants and immigrants in general. In addition to the uncertainty and stress of waiting, delays can also have negative consequences on the employment, educational and personal lives of those affected.


Extension of the validity of work permits for asylum seekers in the United States is a positive measure that seeks to alleviate bottlenecks at USCIS.

However, more work needs to be done to improve and streamline immigration processing in general, as well as to hire more immigration judges to reduce delays in asylum and other cases.

It is important to remember that immigration is a complex issue that requires comprehensive and humanitarian solutions. Addressing asylum cases and expediting immigration processing are critical to ensuring a fair and efficient response to the needs of asylum seekers and immigrants in the United States.