DHS issued a Final Rule on Monday modifying the regulation governing the time frames by which USCIS must adjudicate initial applications for employment authorization (colloquially known as work permits) filed by aliens seeking asylum, and by which aliens can request renewal of such “(c)(8) employment authorization”.
- The Final Rule removes the 30-day deadline by which USCIS was required to adjudicate initial (c)(8) applications. That deadline was created in 1997, when the then-INS received 52,217 affirmative asylum applications. By FY 2017, in contrast, USCIS received 141,638 such applications.
- In FY 2013, USCIS received 41,021 initial applications for (c)(8) employment authorization. By FY 2019, the number of initial receipts had jumped to 216,038.
- Although USCIS does not charge a fee for those initial (c)(8) applications, and despite the massive increase in such applications, in FY 2017 a federal district-court judge issued an injunction requiring USCIS to adjudicate those applications within the 30-day regulatory deadline.
- The elimination of the 30-day deadline will discourage aliens from filing frivolous asylum applications after entering the United States illegally or overstaying their temporary nonimmigrant admissions in the hopes of living and working here indefinitely. It would also relieve USCIS from having to rubber-stamp (c)(8) applications.
- The Final Rule also eliminates a requirement that aliens with (c)(8) authorization file for renewal within 90 days of the date of expiration, in line with earlier regulatory amendments.
- On Friday, DHS will publish a separate Final Rule containing additional regulations relating to the issuance of a (c)(8) employment authorization, that will extend the wait time before an asylum applicant can apply for employment authorization from 150 days to 365 calendar days.