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Court Approves Final Settlement on Employment Authorization for Asylum Seekers


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that on November 4, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted final approval of the revised ABT settlement agreement, closing class action litigation that began in December 2011, in a case called B.H. v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, No. CV11-2108-RAJ (W.D. Wash.). The settlement agreement provides that certain individuals who intend to file, or have already filed, an asylum application may have their eligibility for employment authorization determined using new procedures.

These changes generally relate to eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for asylum applicants, and to calculation of the 180-day “Asylum EAD Clock” for ABT class members.

USCIS explained that the 180-day Asylum EAD Clock measures the time period during which an asylum application has been pending with the USCIS asylum office and/or the Executive Office for Immigration Review. USCIS service centers adjudicate the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and calculate the 180-day Asylum EAD Clock to determine eligibility for employment authorization. Asylum applicants who applied for asylum on or after January 4, 1995, must wait 150 days before they can file an I-765 if the application remains pending. An asylum applicant cannot receive an EAD until his or her asylum application has been pending for at least 180 days. This 180-day period does not include any delays that applicants request or cause while their applications are pending with an asylum office or immigration court, USCIS explained.

The agreement was revised in September 2013 to clarify two points:

  1. Following the remand of an asylum case to an immigration judge, for employment eligibility purposes the asylum applicant will be credited with time going forward, excluding delays requested or caused by the applicant.
  2. Remand Claim relief would be implemented under the six-month time frame provided in most other provisions of the agreement. Due to the government shutdown, the six-month time frame was extended by several weeks and implementation began by December 3, 2013.
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