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Work Authorization That May Be Available To Illegal Entrants

Can an undocumented alien who entered the U.S. without a visa obtain permission to work? The answer is: Yes, in a couple of instances.

  1. ASYLUM: employment authorization may be granted (EAD) to an undocumented alien following the submission of an asylum application after the asylum application has been filed for 150 days. The Immigration Service after 150 days has 30 days to either confer employment authorization or refuse it. If the Immigration Service fails to adjudicate the asylum application within these 30 days, the asylum applicant will be eligible to receive the EAD. If the Immigration Service refers the case to the Immigration Court, the 180 day rule still applies. When an Immigration Judge hears the asylum claimant’s testimony and reviews the documents and hears the testimony of witnesses, and after due consideration, if the Judge were to deny the asylum claim, still the work authorization would continue to be valid, provided the asylum applicant appeals the Judge’s denial.
  2. BATTERED SPOUSES AND CHILDREN: Even though alien spouses or children enter without a visa, a self petitioning battered spouse and/or children are eligible to work authorization, provided their case(s) have not already been denied by the Immigration Court. The battered spouse normally should produce police reports confirming what happened after the complaint was filed. If the police did nothing and ignored the complaint, proof of this is important to show that in the applicant’s country domestic violence is not taken seriously by the authorities, and as a result an application for asylum will be seriously considered by the Immigration Service.


Beneficiaries who are in H, L or E status and beneficiaries of a Labor Certification and a Preference who have filed for adjustment of status under a current priority date are eligible for work authorization. Persons granted asylum, and fiances and spouses and accompanying children who were admitted under K status and U and T visa holders who have been victims of physical and mental abuse or of human trafficking are also entitled to receive work authorization. Spouses of E-2 and L-1 visas are included as well.


Employment Authorization is available for spouses, and unmarried children of immigrants who have been granted temporary or permanent residence as Special Agricultural Workers.

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