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Applying for asylum in the US can take years in some cases, whether you’re accepted or not. During that time, you’re not eligible for government benefits or care. So, what can you do about your living expenses? Once you’ve applied for asylum, you will eventually be able to apply for a temporary work permit, after a certain period of time.

Applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) – often called the EAD card – is available to people applying for asylum under most circumstances. But, you won’t be eligible to get it until your application has been submitted and no final decision is made within 180 days. You may be able to apply after 150 days, to receive it after 180 days of no final decision.

The 180-day wait time starts from the moment you officially file your asylum application. But, the clock can be “stopped” based on certain parts of the asylum application process, such as if you miss or re-schedule any appointments or you are asked to give additional documentation or evidence.

You can apply for EAD cards using the I-765 form. The I-765 application for employment authorization should be submitted to the USCIS for approval. You will have the burden of proof to show that you’re within the correct time period. It may take some time to get your decision, whether you’re approved or rejected.

As long as you remain waiting for your final decision, you may continue renewing your EAD card as necessary.

What to Consider with EAD Applications

It can be a complex process to get an EAD while waiting for your asylum application decision. Here are some of the things to keep in mind about the process:

  • The 180-day waiting period is non-negotiable

There are no exemptions or waivers offered to reduce the waiting time. You must wait a minimum of 180 days before you can receive your employment authorization document.

  • The clock can be stopped based on certain requests or steps in the process

If the asylum office or immigration court makes a request of you, the time will usually stop until you have fulfilled their request. Similarly, re-scheduling appointment dates for interviews or biometrics can delay the 180-day clock as well.

  • You need to keep proof of when you applied to show the correct time period has passed

The burden is on you to show that 180 days (or 150 days for early applicants) have passed when you’re applying for your EAD. You will need an official receipt from the USCIS or immigration court showing they received your application.

  • Work authorization will be revoked if you are denied asylum

If a final decision comes in for your asylum application and you are denied, your EAD will no longer be valid, even if you are still in status on another visa. If you are not in status from another visa, you are likely to be placed in removal proceedings.

  • You can check your EAD card status any time

Once you’ve applied for your EAD, you can check your EAD card status online to see any updates on the application.

Applying for Work after Asylum If Granted

Being successfully granted asylee status gives you automatic rights to work in the US whether or not you have a work authorization card. Nevertheless, you should contact the asylum office that approved your case to get issued one.


Because the asylum application process can take such a long time, the ability to work when the process takes too long is a great asset for many families. The employment authorization document helps families and individuals to take care of themselves while waiting to hear a final decision on their asylum cases.