Asylum-seekers who have recently filed work permit applications have been finding their applications delayed. This delay is due to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) working on its backlog of applications.
The USCIS must process work permits for those seeking asylum within 30 days of receiving them. However, many asylum seekers have been waiting longer than this for their initial work requests to be approved. The USCIS has struggled with complying with the 30-day requirement this year.
The slowdown in the processing of new applications started after a court ruling in February reinstated the 30-day processing time for all asylum seekers. Before this decision, the USCIS complied with a previous court decision that ordered the agency to reinstate the 30-day processing time, but only for asylum-seekers from the nonprofit groups: CASA de Maryland and ASAP. This decision increased the processing speed of applications for members of these groups but not others.
The USCIS has been making the large backlog of work permit applications a priority recently, thus slowing down its processing of more recent applications. For the past three months, most applications processed by the USCIS have been pending for over 120 days.
While the agency concentrates on processing older applications, more recent applications continue building up. Unfortunately, the number of pending applications isn’t improving much because of this endless cycle.
Delays in processing applications for work permits and renewals are a common problem for all eligible immigrants waiting on the USCIS. However, the recent decline in the USCIS’s ability to comply within the 30-day window for asylum-seekers worsened as court decisions affected the processing.
After the February decision, the number of work permits being processed increased. However, it now seems to be declining. The delays in processing make it difficult for asylum-seekers to support themselves. For example, asylum-seekers must wait 150 days after the USCIS receives their application for asylum before they are permitted to apply for a work permit. Therefore, if these asylum seekers have to wait for extended periods for a work permit, it can be challenging for them to support themselves and their families.
It is also unfortunate for employers who are often already suffering from labor shortages. If the USCIS solves their difficulties and can comply with the required 30-day processing time, it will help a lot of employers and employees.
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