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Determining eligibility to work after filing for asylum

While the United States government does limit the number of people who can gain refugee status every year, there is no limit to how many people are awarded asylum. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 9,933 people were given asylum in 2013. Asylees are people who are already in the country in order to escape persecution based on their race, nationality, religion or politics. This differs from a refugee, who is not yet in the United States.

Within a year of entering the U.S., someone seeking asylum must file a Form I-589. A spouse and children already in the United States may be added to the application, as long as the children are not married and are younger than 21.

Many people in need of asylum also will have to find a way to earn a living. No one is permitted to file for employment authorization at the same time as applying for asylum status. According to the USCIS, someone who is granted asylum may begin working immediately. It is possible to obtain employment authorization documents for companies that request them, though the forms are not necessary to get a job.

It is important to point out that for some people, gaining asylum approval may take a significant amount of time. Fortunately, the government will allow for someone to apply for permission to work if it has been 150 days since the complete application for asylum was filed and there has not yet been a decision on the application. In those cases, the 150 days may not include any delays that the applicant caused, such as incomplete paperwork or a request to reschedule an interview.

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