Sessions Rescinds Memoranda Impacting Refugee and Asylee Right to Work

Continuing his assault on refugees and asylum seekers, Jeff Sessions rescinded Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance that dictated refugees and asylum seekers have the right to indefinitely work in the United States.

The guidance is superseded by DOJ memoranda issued in 2014 and revised in 2016, which basically lays out the same rights for refugees and asylees, but without additional guidance for employers who hire refugees and asylees. Perhaps, Sessions forgot to rescind this document as well.

In any case, rescinding a guidance does not rescind a law. Whether the Trump Administration likes it or not, individuals who are refugees and who have been granted asylum have the indefinitely right to live and work in the United States per DHS regulations. Typically, once refugee or asylum status is granted, an individual is issued an I-94 as proof of refugee or asylum status. We usually forego obtaining a work authorization card, especially if it is cost-prohibitive, and opt for the client to obtain an unrestricted social security number to present for employment verification along with the I-94 and a form of identification.

Those who have merely applied for asylum can also obtain work authorization after their applications are pending for 150 days, but no sooner than 180 days.

We hope the rescission does not negatively impact asylee and refugee rights in the workplace. If you feel you have been discriminated against for being an asylee or refugee by an employer, get in touch with us.


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