USCIS announced a proposed regulation to change the process for granting or denying an initial application for employment authorization documents (EADs) by reforming the current 30-day timeline pertaining to pending asylum applicants. Under the new provisions, USCIS will no longer guarantee to process work authorization applications in 30 days, instead the processing time required will depend on the service center’s workload.

Initial applications for employment authorization from pending asylum applicants are currently the only category of employment authorization applications adjudicated by USCIS that have a required processing timeline attached to them. Because of this, the agency must frequently divert resources away from other legal immigration application processing categories in order to meet the 30-day deadline for asylum seekers. These categories include family members of certain high skilled employees and those seeking adjustment of status in the United States, among others. These proposed changes will allow USCIS the time needed to receive, screen, and process applications, which in turn would strengthen national security, maintain technological advances in identity verification, and further deter those who may be attempting to defraud the legal immigration system under an improved process.

Asylum is a humanitarian immigration benefit applied for by individuals who fear severe harm or persecution if they return to their country of origin. For more information on asylum and other humanitarian relief, please click here. Applicants can file for employment authorization 180 days after an application is filed. For more information about this, please click here. This new proposal will be published in the Federal Register on Sept. 9, 2019. USCIS encourages public feedback on the proposed rule before the comment period ends on Nov. 8, 2019. Currently, this new provision is still a proposal and does not impact processing times for Asylum based EAD’s.

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