Asylum Seekers and Work Authorization: How to Obtain an EAD While Your Case Is Pending

Seeking asylum in the United States is a courageous step towards safety and a better future. However, as you wait for your case to be resolved, obtaining the right to work is essential for supporting yourself and your family. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) can allow you to work legally while your asylum application is pending, helping you gain financial independence and stability during this critical period. 

Understanding the Employment Authorization Document 

The Employment Authorization Document grants asylum seekers in the United States the legal right to work while their asylum application is pending. An EAD allows you to secure employment, ensuring financial independence and stability as you await the outcome of your case. This document is essential for maintaining your livelihood and supporting your family. With an EAD, you can apply for any job that matches your skills and qualifications, offering you the chance to contribute to your community and establish a sense of normalcy during a challenging time. 

Eligibility Criteria for an EAD

To qualify for an EAD as an asylum seeker, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Pending Asylum Application: You must have filed Form I-589, Application for Asylum, and it must be pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the immigration court.
  • Waiting Period: Your asylum application must have been pending for at least 150 days from the date of filing before you can apply for an EAD.
  • No Applicant-Caused Delays: You must not have caused any delays in the processing of your asylum case, such as missing interviews or hearings or requesting unnecessary extensions.
  • Legal Presence in the U.S.: You must be physically present in the United States and not subject to removal proceedings or have any criminal disqualifications that might affect your eligibility.
  • Valid and Complete Documentation: Ensure you submit all required forms and supporting documents accurately and completely to avoid processing delays. 

How to Apply for an EAD: Step-by-Step Guide

Applying for an EAD as an asylum seeker involves several key steps. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you through the process:

  1. Complete Form I-765: Obtain Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, from the USCIS website. Fill out the form accurately, providing all necessary personal details and asylum case information. Ensure you check the appropriate category for asylum seekers (c)(8).
  1. Gather Required Documentation: Collect a copy of your asylum application receipt notice. Include two passport-sized photos that meet USCIS specifications. Provide a copy of a government-issued ID, such as a passport or national ID card.
  1. Submit Supporting Documents: Attach a copy of any notices of action from USCIS regarding your asylum case. Include proof of your identity and any previous EADs, if applicable.
  1. Pay the Application Fee: Pay the required fee unless you qualify for a fee waiver. You can request a waiver by submitting Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver and supporting documentation showing financial hardship.
  1. Mail Your Application: Mail your completed application packet to the appropriate USCIS lockbox facility. The address depends on your state of residence and is listed on the USCIS website.
  1. Track Your Application: Once submitted, track your application status online using the receipt number provided by USCIS. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information to avoid delays.

Your Rights and Responsibilities with an EAD

With an EAD, you gain the right to work legally in the United States, allowing you to apply for any job that matches your skills and qualifications. You must ensure that your EAD remains valid and apply for renewal before it expires to avoid lapses in your work authorization. Additionally, you must comply with all U.S. employment laws, including paying taxes and adhering to workplace regulations. Maintaining your EAD in good standing is crucial for your continued legal employment and stability in the U.S.

Get Help with Your EAD Application

At Rahimi Law Firm, P.C., we provide professional guidance through every step of your EAD application, ensuring your documents are accurate and complete. Our dedicated team is committed to helping you secure your work authorization swiftly and efficiently. Contact us today for personalized assistance and take the next step toward achieving your goals.