Final Rules on Work Authorizations for Asylum Seekers Published This Week Devastating to Torture Survivors | Center for Victims of Torture

Final Rules on Work Authorizations for Asylum Seekers Published This Week Devastating to Torture Survivors

Friday, June 26, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. & WASHINGTON — The Center for Victims of Torture™ (CVT) today issued this statement in response to the asylum rules posted in the Federal Register.

“We are deeply disappointed and concerned by the publication of two final rules for which CVT provided comment —one published Monday June 22, 2020 and another today—that together considerably limit the ability of asylum seekers, survivors of torture included, to obtain work authorizations. These rules will devastate many survivors of torture and other individuals who need healing as a result of their persecution. Clinicians and their colleagues from torture treatment programs across the United States know from first-hand experience how important employment is for effective rehabilitation, and the consequences for refugee and asylum-seeking trauma survivors who do not receive timely work authorization—from obstructing their recovery to forcing them into an underground economy where they risk being re-victimized.

“By prohibiting the grant of a work permit to asylum seekers who cross, or attempt to cross, the border between ports of entry—essentially taking their livelihood—this rule is punishing asylum seekers, which is a violation of Article 31 of the Refugee Convention.” —Andrea Cárcamo, CVT senior policy counsel. 

Among others, these are some of the main effects of these rules:

Starting August 21, 2020 (rule issued 6/22/2020):

  • USCIS will no longer be required to adjudicate the work authorizations of asylum seekers within 30 days after the application was filed, allowing for indefinite delays.  

Starting August 29, 2020 (rule issued 6/26/2020):

  • Extends the time an asylum seeker can submit a work authorization from 150 to 365 days.
  • Bars from asylum the following:
    • Asylum seekers who cross or attempt to cross the border between ports of entry.
    • Asylum seekers who file the asylum application one year after arriving in the U.S.  
    • Adds additional procedural actions leading to a delay in the qualification for a work authorization.


The Center for Victims of Torture is a nonprofit organization headquartered in St. Paul, MN, with offices in Atlanta, GA, and Washington, D.C.; and healing initiatives in Africa and the Middle East. Visit

Jenni Bowring-McDonough
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