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Navigating Work Authorization and the Asylum Clock: Delays, Denials, and the 180-Day Rule

AG Law Firm Jan. 12, 2024

Hey there! If you're an asylum seeker in the United States, you probably know that getting work authorization is a big deal. But there's this thing called the "asylum clock" that determines when you can apply for it. In this article, we'll walk you through what the asylum clock is all about, how delays caused by you or the government can mess things up, and why reaching the 180-day mark before your asylum case is denied in immigration court is super important if you want that work permit.

Understanding the Asylum Clock

Okay, so the asylum clock is a fancy term in immigration law. It's like a timer that starts ticking the day you submit your complete Form I-589, also known as your asylum application. You become eligible to apply for work authorization when your asylum application has been pending for at least 150 days without a decision from either the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). At 180 days, your work authorization is eligible to be granted. That’s right – you can apply at 150 days, but it cannot be decided on before 180 days.

The 180-Day Rule

Now, here's where it gets interesting. If you have a defensive asylum case in front of the EOIR (like when you're in immigration court), reaching the 180-day mark is a big deal. Why? Well, if the judge denies your asylum case before you hit that 180-day milestone, it can seriously impact your chances of getting a work permit, even if you decide to appeal the decision.

Work Authorization Ineligibility After Denial

So, here's the deal: If your asylum case gets denied by the judge before you reach the 180-day mark, you won't be able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is your work permit. This rule applies to EOIR defensive asylum cases.

Delays and the Clock

The asylum clock can actually stop ticking if there are delays caused by you. These delays can impact when you become eligible for work authorization:

Applicant-Caused Delays: If you, as the asylum seeker, fail to attend important appointments like your asylum interview or court hearing, the clock can come to a halt. Missing these appointments without a valid reason can result in delays and affect your work authorization eligibility.

Continuances Requested by You: Sometimes, you may request a continuance, which means asking to postpone a scheduled interview or hearing. While there are valid reasons for continuances, requesting them too frequently or unnecessarily can slow down the process and stop the asylum clock.

Failure to Submit Required Documents: It's essential to submit all the necessary documents and evidence promptly. If you delay in providing the required paperwork or responding to requests for additional information, it can lead to delays and stop the asylum clock.

How to Navigate Delays and Meet the 180-Day Requirement

Now, let's talk about how you can increase your chances of reaching that 180-day milestone and securing work authorization:

  1. Get Your Application in ASAP: Start the asylum process by submitting your asylum application (Form I-589) as soon as you can. Waiting too long could delay your work permit eligibility.

  2. Team Up with an Immigration Pro: Working with an experienced immigration attorney can make a world of difference. They know the ins and outs of the asylum process and can help you meet all the requirements to keep things on track.

  3. Be Ready to Appeal: If your asylum case is denied, consider appealing if your claim has merit. An appeal will continue your eligibility for a work permit if you’ve reached the 180 day mark prior to the denial in immigration court.

So there you have it, a more laid-back guide to navigating the asylum clock, delays, denials, and the all important 180-day rule. By understanding these quirks of the system and seeking legal help when needed, you can increase your chances of obtaining work authorization, even if you face some bumps along the way. Good luck on your asylum journey!