The vast majority of asylum seekers want to work but face several challenges in this regard:

Limited Authorization

While waiting for their asylum applications to be processed, asylum seekers must first obtain authorization to work legally in the U.S. This process can be lengthy and complex, leaving many asylum seekers unable to work for months or even years.

Waiting Period

After submitting their asylum application, an asylum seeker must typically wait at least 150 days before they can apply for an employment authorization document (EAD). Processing times can vary and it can take many months or more than a year to obtain an EAD after applying for one. During this waiting period, asylum seekers may experience financial strain and uncertainty about their future, making it difficult to plan for employment or career advancement.

Limited Support Services

Asylum seekers often have limited access to support services such as job training, career counseling, and employment placement assistance. Without adequate support, they may struggle to navigate the U.S. job market and find opportunities.

Fear and Stigma

Some asylum seekers may face fear and stigma related to their immigration status, which can affect their confidence and willingness to pursue employment opportunities. Employers may also be hesitant to hire asylum seekers due to misconceptions or concerns about legal risks.

Limited Authorization

An EAD is only valid for a defined period of time and must be renewed regularly. Renewing a work authorization requires payment of a $410 filing fee, which is very expensive for most applicants, and backlogs in processing time can cause gaps in employment.

There is growing public support for policies that promote the economic empowerment and integration of asylum seekers. Polls have shown that a majority of Americans believe asylum seekers should be allowed to work while their asylum applications are pending. Many faith-based organizations, labor unions, business groups, and civil society organizations have also voiced support for policies that facilitate greater access to employment for asylum seekers.

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