Due to the settlement of a class action lawsuit, after November 2013, it will be faster for defensive asylum applicants to obtain a work permit. A defensive asylum case is one which is pending before an Immigration Judge.
The regulations do not allow an asylum application to be "filed" other than at a hearing before a judge. As a result of "the asylum clock," an applicant cannot usually request employment authorization for many month (or years). At the end of this year, asylum applications will be "lodged" with a court clerk. This means either sent in the mail or presented in person.
Once an asylum application is "lodged" and the required 150 days have elapsed, the applicant can request a work permit. More information is available here.
For professional help on asylum and work permits call a Board-certified immigration expert at the Weston law office of Blandon Law. The number is 954-385-0157.