Since the influx of asylum-seeking migrants began last year, only a small percentage of migrants in New York City, about 2%, have applied for legal work permits.
New figures from City Hall reveal that, out of the 139,500 migrants processed in the city since Spring 2022, only approximately 3,200 have submitted applications for work authorization.
These figures come even though over 42,000 adult migrants are under the city’s care.
The Asylum Application Help Center, which opened in June, has seen only about 1,500 work permit applications filed through its services.
Additionally, Department of Homeland Security officials assisted with another 1,700 applications during a focused two-week initiative. However, the exact number of approved applications remains undisclosed.
Children and other ineligible groups are also included in the total migrant count of 139,500.
The actual count of migrants who are eligible to work is unknown due to the absence of comprehensive tracking by city, state, or federal agencies post-border crossing.
The city is currently accommodating 65,500 asylum seekers across more than 200 shelters.
According to the latest statistics from City Hall, New York City saw the arrival of over 2,800 migrants in the past week, indicating a slight decrease from the record-breaking high of 3,900 in a single week last month.
While recent weeks have averaged around 2,500 new arrivals, officials from the Adams administration warn that this dip in numbers may be short-lived.
The state-funded help center, located in the Roosevelt Hotel-turned-migrant shelter, has been instrumental in processing work permits and asylum and Temporary Protected Status applications.
Staffed by 75 administrative personnel and 20 immigration attorneys, the center has processed 6,768 asylum and 1,265 TPS applications and work permits.
Migrants must first file their asylum claims before being eligible to apply for work permits, a process that could extend up to six months.
The extensive paperwork and waiting periods involved in the application process continue to be a significant hurdle for the city’s migrant population seeking employment.