Sen. Gillibrand Leads Effort to Waive Work Authorization Fees for Migrants

Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

(WNY News Now) – Amid a surge in migrant populations, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spearheads a bipartisan initiative to eliminate the $410 application fee for employment authorization, aiming to alleviate obstacles and waiting times faced by migrants seeking work permits.

Washington D.C. – With an increase in migrants settling in New York and cities nationwide, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is taking the lead in a bipartisan effort to remove the $410 filing fee for the I-765 employment authorization application. House Representative Adriano Espaillat is pushing for a similar waiver in the House of Representatives. A group of New York representatives, including Jamaal Bowman, Grace Meng, Paul Tonko, Ritchie Torres, Nydia Velázquez, Max Rose, Jerry Nadler, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have joined forces with Gillibrand and Espaillat, collectively urging the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to forgo the filing fee.

In a joint statement, the lawmakers emphasized that many migrants have fled their home countries due to pressing humanitarian concerns such as oppression, violence, poverty, or persecution. These individuals currently face significant hurdles in obtaining legal work authorization, as the filing fee remains financially out of reach for many. The proposed fee waiver seeks to empower migrants, promote self-sufficiency, and alleviate the burden on city resources.

Dear Director Jaddou:

We write to request that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) waive the filing fee for the Application for Employment Authorization (I-765) for parolees in order to expedite the work authorization process and provide these individuals the ability to legally and safely work. We appreciate the Administration’s attention to this urgent humanitarian issue.

Since the spring of 2022, approximately 110,000 migrants have arrived in New York City. Today, about 60,000 of them remain under the City’s care. While we anticipate many of these migrants will apply for asylum, those with parolee status are already eligible to apply for a work permit, which would give them legal work authorization ((c)11 category) for the duration of their parole. However, the I-765 filing fee poses a significant barrier to many potential parolee applicants.

Currently, the filing fee for I-765 application is $410. Many parolees have fled their countries of origin for urgent humanitarian reasons – fleeing oppression, violence, poverty, or persecution. As these individuals are unable to work legally or safely without a valid work authorization, the filing fee is simply unattainable for many, leaving them in limbo under the City’s care. Reducing barriers to applying for employment authorizations will allow parolees to achieve self-sufficiency and reduce the strain on the city’s resources.

We therefore respectfully request that USCIS waive the $410 filing fee for all I-765’s filed by parolees in order to provide parolees access to work permits without any financial burden. Lastly, as you consider our request to waive the fees of all I-765 forms for parolees, we further ask USCIS to consider making I-912 fee waiver forms available to submit online, to reduce the burden of having to mail these forms to USCIS. The United States has a responsibility to provide an orderly and legal pathway to work for those who are seeking safety and protection from the circumstances they fled from in the countries of origin. Comprehensive immigration reform is long past due. However, we can make these critical changes now that can provide immediate relief to this vulnerable population.

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