EAD Clock and Transfer of Pending Asylum Case
Author: USA Asylum Attorney Alena Shautsova
Finally, there is a good news for asylum seekers. USCIS is adjusting its policy on stopping the employment authorization clock in case an applicant is filing his/her request to change the venue or transfer the case from one asylum office to another.
Previously, any request for transfer at any point of asylum case was considered by USCIS as a delay of the proceedings caused by the applicant and the EAD clock (the 180 day clock for employment authorization that starts to run once the case is filed) would be stopped, and often stopped permanently.
Recently, USCIS announced that in case of a transfer request the clock will be stopped only if the case had already been scheduled for an interview prior to the request. It is unclear, if the applicant should be aware of the scheduled date or not, for the “punishment” to be imposed. However, the good news is that clock will be and should be restarted for all those cases were it was stopped in violation of this new policy.
The EAD clock is one of the most sensitive topic for asylum seekers. In many other countries, asylum seekers may enjoy different benefits while they are waiting for the resolution of their applications. The only benefit that they get in the US is a right to an employment authorization that one can use after his/her case was pending for more than 180 days.
Sometimes, pro se applicants transfer their cases without knowing of the consequences of transfer. The new policy should help to eliminate this injustice and help those awaiting for their asylum cases to be resolved.
The other aspect of the issue is that the wait times for asylum interviews increased dramatically within the past few years. It is not uncommon for an asylum seeker to wait for 2 years before he/she is called for an appointment with an Asylum officer. It means that if somebody moved within the first 6 months after filing the case, he lost his/her chance for an employment authorization for the whole time the case would be pending. Hopefully, the new policy will help “movers” to avoid this consequences.