This is a popular and frustrating topic for all clients and attorneys, so we are addressing the issue. We are also addressing this issue because we received many questions regarding the processing time for work permits in our last newsletter.
First, it is important to separate law firms and attorneys from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS is a governmental agency that processes all immigration applications through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. Once the legal team completes the work permit application and successfully files it with the government, it processes it. The processing time for this application shifts to the government and is within its control. Also, USCIS publishes an estimated time for how long each application takes to process, and that processing time is up, then your legal team can request timely processing of the application and inquire about the reasons for the delay, but only after. We understand that this is a difficult concept for clients, but the government decides when the client’s application for a work permit will be approved.
As of February 2023, it is taking USCIS 13 months to process and approve your application for a work permit based on a pending asylum. It takes USCIS more than 9 months to process and approve a work permit based on cancellation of removal cases. The processing time for all applications is public and can be found at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/.
Again, we understand the frustration, but this is not helpful. Instead, work with your legal team to determine if it is time to submit a service inquiry to USCIS. But the government controls the timing of all immigration applications, including family petitions, all interviews, U-visa and VAWA applications, and all others.
EXPIRATION OF WORK PERMIT WHILE YOUR RENEWAL IS IN PROCESS
Last year in May, due to the delay in processing all applications for a work permit, USCIS came up with a new regulation to alleviate the frustration and anger of all applicants. This is still in effect today. If you have submitted your application to renew your work permit before your current work permit expires, you are automatically given an extension of 540 days. Most of our clients qualify for this extension. For clients with pending asylum, cancellation of removal, adjustment of status cases, and many others, DHS regulations provide for an automatic extension period of up to 540 days from the expiration date stated on the Employment Authorization Document or work permit. This gives time for USCIS to process all pending applications, and at the same time, it provides concerned clients peace of mind that their work permit is valid despite the expiration date on their work permit card. 540 days equals 1.5 years, which is a long time, so clients should not worry about how long USCIS will take to process their pending applications. DHS regulation can be found at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/05/04/2022-09539/temporary-increase-of-the-automatic-extension-period-of-employment-authorization-and-documentation.
For clients experiencing issues with work due to the delay in USCIS processing the work permit and who properly filed the renewal application, reach out to your legal team for further assistance.