Proposed legislation would slash 180-day waiting period for work authorization
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Upwardly Global is advocating for the passage of the Assisting Seekers in Pursuit of Integration and Rapid Employment (ASPIRE) Act introduced on June 22 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.). The bill would shorten the current 180-day waiting period before asylum seekers are eligible to apply for employment authorization, which often leaves them vulnerable to unsafe working conditions.
The ASPIRE Act proposes a 30-day waiting period after one’s asylum application has been filed. A reduced waiting period would accelerate economic self-sufficiency for asylum seekers and alleviate current labor market shortages.
“Asylum seekers come to the U.S. in search of safety and a means to survive, which are directly linked to their ability to earn money. Too often, the lengthy asylum and work permit processes force them into dangerous, low-wage work or dependence on others,” says Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO of Upwardly Global. “We applaud Senators Gillibrand and Merkley and Congressman Torres for their efforts to expedite pathways for asylum seekers to obtain work permits and help fill dire talent shortages.”
The ASPIRE Act not only reduces the waiting period for work permit eligibility from five months to one but also provides funding to USCIS to mitigate the current backlog in processing asylum applications. Additionally, it allocates extra resources to local governments and service providers that offer food and shelter to asylum seekers.
Read the full bill here.
About Upwardly Global
Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for low-income immigrant and refugee professionals and to advance their inclusion into the U.S. economy. Since 2000, Upwardly Global has empowered unemployed or underemployed newcomers with the skills, career coaching, and social capital needed to rebuild their lives and careers. Learn more at UpwardlyGlobal.org.