News & Resources

Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers

If you are an asylum seeker applying for work authorization, keep reading to see if you are eligible for faster processing and other benefits under a recent court decision.

The International Refugee Assistance Project (“IRAP”) provides free legal help to refugees and displaced people. IRAP is not part of the U.S. government. This guide provides general information and is not meant as legal advice for individual applicants. This information was revised in November 2020.

Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr

A federal court in the case CASA v. Wolf has temporarily stopped the government from enforcing new rules that limit asylum seekers’ ability to get an employment authorization document (EAD).

If you are covered by the court’s order, some of the benefits to you include:

  • If you are a first-time EAD applicant, your application must be processed in 30 days.
  • You do not need to pay the biometrics fee or do the biometrics examination when applying for an EAD.
  • You are eligible for an EAD even if you waited more than a year after entering the US to apply for asylum.
  • If you satisfy the EAD application requirements, the government must grant you an EAD.

The court order applies to you if you are a member of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) or CASA de Maryland (CASA) at the time you apply for an EAD.

To be processed under the court order, you must prove you are an ASAP or CASA member when you file your EAD application (Form I-765).  You can do that by attaching a copy of your membership ID or a membership letter from ASAP or CASA immediately behind Form I-765.  For more information, click here for the government’s instructions to applicants.

If you are you interested in becoming a member of ASAP or CASA:

  • Click here to learn more about ASAP membership.
  • Click here to learn more about CASA membership.

If you are a member of ASAP or CASA and you applied for an EAD between August 25, 2020 and October 8, 2020, the government will likely be returning your EAD application with instructions on how to resubmit the application with proof of membership.  You can find those instructions here.  You can resubmit your application now; you do not need to wait to receive your returned application.

More Resources

  • For frequently asked questions about work permits, see ASAP’s page here.

Case History

  • July 21, 2020: IRAP, along with ASAP and the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, filed a case in federal court challenging new rules that drastically limit asylum seekers’ ability to work legally in the United States, arguing that the new rules violated the Administrative Procedure Act and other federal laws.
  • September 11, 2020: The federal court agreed that the rules were unlawful and blocked the government from applying some of the rule changes to members of ASAP and CASA.

Case Documents

Press  Coverage