Following its notice of proposed rulemaking issued last September, USCIS announced on June 19, 2020 that it would adopt its proposed regulations affecting the approval of initial work permit applications for asylum seekers. This new rule, discussed below, affects how quickly the agency must adjudicate an asylum seeker’s initial request for an employment authorization document (EAD) and how soon an asylee may apply for an EAD renewal.
Under the old rule, USCIS was required to adjudicate an asylum seeker’s initial EAD application within 30-days of receiving the request. In addition, asylees were required to file an EAD renewal within 90-days of the document’s expiration date.
According to DHS, the 30-day processing requirement forced it to shift already lean agency resources away from other cases to prioritize adjudication of these EADs over other benefit requests. Further, DHS explained that because there is no filing fee associated with EADs under the asylee category, USCIS’s costs in adjudicating these requests have been covered by the filing fees it collects from other benefit requests.
The new rule eliminates the requirement that USCIS adjudicate initial EAD requests for asylum seekers within 30-days. Moving forward, USCIS will adjudicate initial EADs for asylum seekers as soon as practicable. In addition, the new rule removes the requirement that asylum seekers must wait to file EAD renewal within 90-days before the document expires, and instead, may file renewals up to 180-days in advance of the expiration date.
DHS estimates that removing the 30-day adjudication requirement will result in a loss of $255.88 million to $774.46 million in wages annually. Over 10 years, DHS predicts lost compensation to asylum seekers resulting from this rule could range from $1.797 billion to $6.609 billion. The agency did not evaluate the economic impact of this change on U.S. businesses.
The new rule takes effect on August 21, 2020. The full text of the rule can be found here, in the Federal Register https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/06/22/2020-13391/removal-of-30-day-processing-provision-for-asylum-applicant-related-form-i-765-employment
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