Judge Rules Government’s Work Permit Processing Delays Are Not Unreasonable

A judge in a recent case found that it is not an unreasonable delay for the government to take a number of years to approve a work permit. Therefore, the request that five asylum seekers made to force the government to renew their work permits more quickly was denied.

When immigrants seek asylum in the United States, they are allowed to stay in the country during the time their applications are pending. Additionally, they are permitted to apply to obtain a temporary work permit, so they can legally get a job and, in many states, obtain a driver’s license as well.

A work authorization permit is good for two years, and it will renew automatically for 180 days. But, a renewal needs to be applied for after this. A work permit renewal is supposed to be decided on within 180 days, according to the Department of Homeland Security. However, the five asylum seekers claim that the government takes a lot longer than this, which can result in work permits expiring, thus causing people to lose their jobs. One of the asylum seekers waited for a year for his work permit to be renewed.

The district judge that denied the injunction wrote that the 180-day deadline for adjudicating work permits is more of a goal for the Department of Homeland security than a mandatory rule and that delays of several years are not unusual when approving work permits. A staff attorney that works for the American Immigration Council stated that the ruling was disappointing. According to the attorney, “It’s a decision that leaves thousands of people without jobs.”

The plaintiffs in the case had requested class certification, but the judge denied this and said that each plaintiff would need to be examined individually to see what harm the delay by the government had caused them. However, the plaintiffs’ lawyer said that they would continue with the case.

The work permits for three of the five plaintiffs in the case have been renewed since filing the case. However, the other two plaintiffs are still waiting for their work permits to be renewed. The lawyer for the plaintiffs said there is no explanation for the work permits taking so long to be processed. She believes that the work permits will be approved, and the plaintiffs will be allowed to work, but by that point, they will have lost their jobs.

The government claims that the backlog in work permits has been caused by COVID-19, staffing shortages, and an increase in applications for employment authorization. No matter what the reason for the delay is many foreign national workers have been left struggling with record delays.

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