Asylum applicants, applying affirmatively with USCIS can wait years for their applications to process. During this wait time, an applicant can apply for an employment authorization document (EAD), also called a work permit using form I-765. In general, applicants can apply for the EAD once their affirmative asylum application has been pending with USCIS for at least 150 days. Although there is no fee to apply for the initial work permit, almost all applicants need to apply for at least one more work permit, and subsequent EAD applications do require a fee.
Although the processing time for work permits is supposed to be 90 days, USCIS sometimes processes outside of the 90 days. This can be difficult and frustrating for an applicant who may be required to stop working while awaiting their EAD renewal.
USCIS has put in place a new 2 year EAD that should help with some of these frustrations. Effective October 5, 2016, USCIS increased the validity period for both initial and renewal work permits to two years. The change applies to all I-765 applications with category (c)(8) that are pending on October 5th, or submitted on or after this date.
Q: Who can apply for and benefit from the new 24-month STEM OPT extension?
A: New STEM OPT applicants, and some students who have already applied or already received an extension under the old program will be able to benefit from the new 24-month STEM extension. Here’s a breakdown of the OPT program and new STEM extension:
Q: I’m currently on an F-1 student visa studying in the US. I am afraid to go back to my home country. Can I apply for asylum?
A: Yes, immigrants present in the US may apply for asylum, as long as they have a true non-frivolous claim. Although applicants generally need to apply during their first year in the US, there are some exceptions, including maintaining another lawful immigration status (like your F-1 status.) However, you should still apply as soon as possible.
TPS: Some countries have been designated for Temporary protected Status, or TPS. You should check the list of current TPS countries, and talk with your international student advisor or an immigration attorney about this option as well.
Asylum: Asylum is not just based on being afraid. Your situation/fears need to meet 3 specific criteria, and need to be reasonable. For example, as part of the application, you would provide reports to show that harm you suffered, or are afraid of suffering is reasonable for your country. I’ll outline the general 3 criteria below:
Q: I live in the US and my new husband lives in Canada. I am a permanent resident and would like to sponsor my spouse for a green card. How long will the process take, and can he come live with me in the US and obtain a work permit while he waits for the approval?
A: Congratulations on your recent marriage. Yes, green card holders (also called permanent residents or LPR’s) can petition for their spouses, however, the priority dates are not current for spouses of LPR’s. The Visa Bulletin shows that the current wait is about 6 months for these spouses. That means you could submit a petition for your husband, and then he would wait about 6 months initially, and then another 6-9 months for general processing. Filing a marriage petition for your spouse would not in itself give him a status in the US. He could only enter and remain in the US if he has another separate valid visa status. Most likely, he would need to wait in Canada until the process is complete.
If you are eligible to naturalize, that could help speed up the process a bit. Spouses of a US Citizen do not have to wait, and are immediately eligible to apply (meaning they only wait the general 6-9 months.)
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, provides a way for certain people who entered the US as children and meet other requirements to request deferred action status. Deferred action prevents deportation, by “deferring” removal action for a certain period of time, but it does not provide lawful status. DACA recipients also receive work authorization cards. Because the program began in June of 2012, it is now time for many DACA recipients to renew their status because their DACA and work permit is expiring soon. (See an interesting report here of DACA’s first two years!)
When to Apply:
Check the date your EAD Work Permit expires. The ideal time to apply is between 120 and 150 days before your card expires. If you apply with less than 120 days, your card may not be processed in time, and your current card could expire. On the other end, if you apply more than 150 days prior to the expiration of your DACA period, USCIS may reject your application.
First, you cannot have left the US on or after August 15, 2012 (or after the date you submitted your initial DACA request — if this date is earlier!) However, traveling on Advance Parole is permitted. Second, speak with an attorney if you have anything new with your criminal history since you originally applied for DACA. A felony, significant misdemeanor, or 3 misdemeanors will make you ineligible. Other new misdemeanors should be discussed with your attorney, and must be disclosed on the application.
Documents to prepare:
The same I-812D form is used to for initial and renewal DACA requests. All new documents related to removal proceedings or criminal history must be submitted with the application. Although you should maintain proof that you have resided in the US since your previous DACA application, USCIS asks that this proof is not sent with the application. Instead, hold onto these documents that show your residency, which likely include rental agreements, pay stubs, school transcripts, etc. USCIS reserves the right to ask, and might ask you to send this evidence later.
Good luck, and remember that a licensed Immigration Attorney can help you through the process of your DACA renewal.
Yes, due to a court injunction, 3-year work permits for some DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients need to be returned. USCIS posted this week that DACA recipients who received a three-year Employment Authorization Document (EAD) after February 16, 2015, received it in error, and must be returned. Keep in mind that over 100,000 3-year EAD cards were issued before February 16, 2015, and these do not need to be returned.
If you have to return your three year EAD card, you should be eligible to have the two year EAD card re-issued. If employed, notify your employer to update your I-9.
It is best to return the card and follow USCIS’s instructions because DACA will be terminated if card is not returned. Also, USCIS has stated it will make house calls to pick up unreturned cards.
Send your card by July 30, 2015 via certified mail (so you can track receipt) to:
Attn: ACD DACA
PO Box 87730
Lincoln, NE 68501-7730