USCIS grants 18-month extension for work permit renewal

HOSUTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Thousands of immigrants across the nation will now be able to work in the country legally for longer periods of time.

All of this following a new rule by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to extend work permits for certain applicants to help with the bottleneck of cases.

This extension went into effect on Wednesday. It helps immigrant workers under certain categories like refugee, asylum seeker, and those with temporary protected status.

They're now able to work legally for 18 more months after their permit expires.

"I've had clients all over the country who have been told that they can't come back to work until you have something that shows you're authorized to be employed here," said Immigration Attorney Rebekah Rodriguez. "To me, it seems a little ridiculous that a (work permit) process that takes all of 12 minutes takes over a year for it to happen and I understand that it's because of the backlog."

A construction worker Rodriguez represents out of Corpus Christi said he gets a work permit renewal every year, but this year, it's taken longer than usual. He told ABC13 he's now under a 180-day extension as he awaits the physical permit card. He says until then he's unable to get an identification card from the DMV.

According to a release on Tuesday, the director at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services says a 180-day renewal extension for the work permits wasn't long enough.

Now, people will be able to extend for up to 540 days in order to maintain employment and avoid work disruption. The case delays are impacting families across the country in a plethora of ways.

The Castillo family in Houston has been awaiting the work permit of their 28-year-old disabled son for months. They said that without the work permit he's unable to get an identification card.

"He's been unable to get services that he needs as a person that is disabled because he has no proof of status in the United States," said Rodriguez.

She says he's in limbo, and the Castillo family says they feel they're in a tunnel with no exits.

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