Last updated on March 5, 2021
ASAP members: Last year, with your help, ASAP filed a lawsuit to stop new rules limiting asylum seekers’ ability to work – and won! The name of the lawsuit is CASA v. Mayorkas. (Previously, the case was called CASA v. Wolf. The title changed because there is a new President and new leaders of government agencies, but it is the same lawsuit.)
Over the past few months, we have asked for your help to protect the rights that you received from the lawsuit. Because of your feedback, the government has finally agreed to fix its delays in processing members’ work permit applications!
Here are some questions you may have:
I applied for a work permit as an ASAP member, but it has been more than 30 days, so I think there is a delay. Is this happening to other ASAP members?
We are so sorry this has happened. You are not alone – over the past few months, many members of ASAP have reported that they have had the same problem. As you know, the government is required by law to process your applications in 30 days. We are sorry that you are suffering because the government is not following the law and processing your application quickly.
Using the information from members who told us about delays, ASAP demanded that the government fix the delays and told the government we would go to court again if they didn’t solve the problem. At the end of February, the government agreed that it was required to process your work permit applications within 30 days, and it admitted that it had not been following that requirement in many cases. Thanks to your feedback, the government has finally promised to fix the delays!
What is the government’s plan to fix the delays?
The government has finally promised to process delayed work permit applications from ASAP members. The government has also promised that it will finish processing these applications within 90 days from the end of February. The government promises that after these 90 days, it will consistently process new work permit applications from ASAP members within 30 days, as the law requires. To do all of this, the government is going to have more employees work on processing ASAP members’ work permit applications.
We know that 90 days is a long time, especially if you mailed your work permit application many months ago. The government’s plan does not mean that it can just ignore your delayed application for another 90 days. If you applied a long time ago, the government should be processing your application much sooner than 90 days. We will continue to demand that the government process your delayed applications as soon as possible. For more information on how to flag a delayed application to the government, please read this page.
How will we know if the government is actually fixing the delays?
ASAP will watch to make sure the government is improving the situation. Each month, the government will tell ASAP how many members’ work permit applications are still processing and how many members’ work permit applications are delayed. We will review this information to make sure the government is processing your applications as soon as possible. If the government is not making progress, we will demand that it do more to fix the delays.
What else can I do to follow up on my delayed work permit application?
We are waiting to hear from the government about what our members can do to make sure their delayed applications are processed as quickly as possible. Please check back soon for more information about what you should do if your work permit application is still delayed for more than 30 days.
In the meantime, if you are an ASAP member you may also have rights under a court decision called Rosario to have your work authorization application processed in 30 days. ASAP is not directly involved in the Rosario lawsuit, but we have posted instructions about how members can demand their rights under that lawsuit at this page.
Here is more background information about the CASA v. Wolf lawsuit:
What is the status of the CASA v. Mayorkas lawsuit?
On September 11, 2020, the court ordered the government to process work permit applications for ASAP members within 30 days and without requiring an $85 biometrics fee. Under the court’s order (called a “preliminary injunction”), ASAP members can also apply for work permits 150 days after applying for asylum, instead of having to wait 365 days. Read more at https://asylumadvocacy.org/765.
Why did we ask members for information about their work permit applications?
At first, the government did not set up a standard process for how ASAP members should prove their ASAP membership in their work permit applications. So we reached out to ASAP members to ask if they had submitted work permit applications, and if we could give their information to the government. This way, the government could identify their applications as belonging to ASAP members.
Through this process, we submitted the information of 1,600 ASAP members to the government to ensure that their applications would be processed more quickly and without requiring an $85 biometrics fee.
Is there now a standard process for ASAP members to prove their membership on work permit applications?
Yes. On October 9, 2020, the government agreed that it would process work permit applications for ASAP members correctly, as long as members included a copy of their ASAP membership card in their work permit applications. A notice about this was posted on the USCIS website: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765.
ASAP members applying for a work permit for the first time should not include the $85 biometrics fee or a fee waiver request with their work authorization applications. The government has told us that including the $85 biometrics fee may cause a delay in processing ASAP members’ applications. ASAP members applying for a work permit for the first time should also not include a fee waiver request, because this may also delay your application. We don’t think these delays are legal or fair, and we are fighting back, but we want you to have this information.
What happened to work permit applications that ASAP members filed before there was a standard process?
Because the government did not agree to one standard process for members to prove their ASAP membership in their work permit applications at first, there were problems.
Beginning on October 26, 2020, the government returned the work permit applications of around 25,000 asylum seekers. The government included a “return notice” instructing asylum seekers to apply for a work permit again with a copy of their ASAP membership card if they were members.
This caused a lot of confusion because many ASAP members who received these “return notices” had already included their membership cards in their first work permit application. We believe this impacted many ASAP members who applied for work permits between September 11 and October 26, 2020.
What other problems have ASAP members identified?
Starting in early December 2020, some ASAP members began reporting that their work permit applications were taking much longer than the 30 days ordered by the court.
Other ASAP members reported wrongful denials of their work permit applications. For example, ASAP members shared that the government incorrectly asked them to pay the $85 biometrics fee or to told them to wait for 365 days before applying.
As explained above, these reports from ASAP members have successfully pushed the government to fix these issues.
How has the information that ASAP members shared helped us fight for your rights?
Because some ASAP members told us that applications were taking longer than 30 days, ASAP asked the government to fix the problem. We also surveyed more of our members to find out if they were also having delays and if we could share their information with the government.
Based on members’ responses, ASAP sent the information of about 100 members to the government on January 7, 2021, the information of 1,200 more members on January 21, 2021, and the information of 1,600 more members on February 3, 2021. We told the government to process these members’ work permit applications correctly. Because of all of the members who responded to these surveys, the government finally admitted there were serious problems and agreed to fix them, as explained above.