USCIS Backlog on Work Authorizations

Person stamping

US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which adjudicates and approves work permits, says there's an unprecedented backlog of 1.4 million work permit applications pending, including initial applications and renewals. USCIS does not have a breakdown of how many of those permits have lapsed because of the backlog.

Some immigrants, including asylum seekers, are allowed to work in the US while their cases are pending -- a process that often takes years to complete -- and they are required to renew those permits on a regular basis. Without those renewals granted, work permits are lapsing, leaving employers no choice but to terminate workers even during a worker shortage.

USCIS, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, has been facing enormous backlogs across the board due to the coronavirus pandemic and, an official argued, poor management under the previous administration that in part resulted in a million cases spanning categories that were unopened in January.

Since then, the Biden administration has been chipping away at the various backlogs at USCIS through policy changes, paying overtime, and trying to bring on more personnel.

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