New Changes to Asylum Applications and Work Permits

Federal Register

On June 26, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule titled “Asylum Application, Interview, and Employment Authorization for Applicants,” 85 Fed. Reg. 38,532. This rule was proposed on November 14, 2019 and received numerous comments. It will become law on August 25, 2020.

The most serious changes for asylum applicants will be the longer waiting period before one can file for work authorization, and the denial of work authorization entirely for those who were paroled after being found to have a credible fear of persecution. There is also a new bar with some exceptions for those who entered the US unlawfully. Here is a summary of changes made in this rule:

  • It makes it easier for DHS to reject asylum applications that do not follow the instructions exactly
  • It removes the 30-day period after which an application for asylum that has been received is considered to be properly filed, even if it did not comply with the instructions
  • Changes provisions related to delays caused by requests to amend or supplement an application
  • Extends the initial work permit application waiting period to 365 days, up from 150 days
  • Categorically denies work authorization to anyone:
    • Convicted of an aggravated felony anywhere and at any time
    • Convicted of a “particularly serious crime” after August 25, 2020
    • Anyone for whom there are serious reasons to believe has committed a serious non-political crime outside the United States
    • Who fails to establish that they are not prohibited from receiving asylum due to criminal grounds under 8 C.F.R. 208.13(c)
    • With asylum applications denied during the 365 days following application
    • Filing asylum applications after August 25, 2020 and after the one-year deadline of their arrival in the US, unless they are determined to fall within an exception or was an unaccompanied minor when the application was filed
    • Who entered or attempted to enter the US unlawfully after August 25, 2020, unless that person presented themself to immigration within 48 hours, indicated their desire to apply for asylum, and had good cause for entering illegally (which is defined very narrowly)
  • Any delays caused by the asylum applicant that are still outstanding at the time of filing a work authorization request will result in denial of the work authorization request
  • Imposes a 14-day requirement to submit documentary evidence in advance of an asylum interview, but an asylum officer may still consider that evidence if it is submitted later
  • More detailed and strict consequences for failing to appear for biometrics or an interview, but allowing USCIS discretion to reconsider actions taken if an applicant misses those appointments
  • Prevents those individuals paroled from custody after a positive credible fear finding from getting work authorization