Budget shortfalls, the COVID-19 pandemic, and insufficient staff have caused a considerable backlog of employment authorizations. This has caused some asylum seekers to lose their jobs while waiting to have their employment authorizations approved or renewed.
Some petitioners have been waiting more than six months and have even lost their jobs due to their current work authorizations running out. This forces asylum seekers to live on their savings if they have any.
Some work authorizations are extended for 180 days, but this isn’t always enough. With the backlog in applications, people are still finding their work authorizations expiring. Some members of Congress are saying that the federal government should speed up the renewals and, until then, should extend the work authorizations for 360 days.
Some people can lose their job and everything else due to the delays in processing the work authorization renewals. This is a difficult situation for the immigrants involved, and they have no control over the situation. There were over one million employment authorizations waiting to be approved at the end of June. A number of representatives from Florida have requested that the problem be solved immediately. The representatives wrote a letter to the director of the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request that the situation be dealt with immediately.
The representatives said that they have a number of cases where individuals have filed for their renewals when they should. Yet, these individuals have lost their jobs or will be losing their jobs due to slow processing times by the USCIS. If these individuals don’t have a work permit, they are not able to keep their jobs or maintain the identification documents they need. In addition to these reasons, the representatives mentioned humanitarian reasons for expediting the processing of these applications, such as the danger and oppression some asylum seekers would face in their home countries.
The federal government has tried to improve the immigration system, and the USCIS has taken some steps to reduce the delays, including allowing resources to be shifted to high-priority areas if needed. They also changed policies so that applicants would no longer have to file a number of forms to get the same benefit.
Some asylum seekers do have some protection from being deported. Venezuelans have the option of applying for Temporary Protected Status, which also lets them get work authorization. Although, having Temporary Protected Status does not seem to speed up the work authorization process. These delays are hard on both employees and employers. Employees need to make a living, and employers are already facing labor shortages without having to discharge the workers they have. So, hopefully, the government will find a way to speed up the work authorization process.