More than a week after Gov. Maura Healey issued an order to activate up to 250 National Guard members to assist in the migrant crisis, she is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to make changes to work authorization protocols for those immigrants.

Hundreds of migrant families came to the state last month, flooding an already strained emergency shelter system, and state officials expect that pace to continue in the months ahead. Fleeing violence and persecution in Haiti and Latin America, the migrants often have limited funds and no possessions, making it hard for them to financially rebuild in a state with such a high cost of living.

The Thursday letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asks for regulatory changes that would allow provisional work authorizations for migrants, and allow for a receipt of their work authorization applications to count as an employment authorization document, bypassing the long wait time to get one.

“This letter memorializes our requests for additional federal funding and changes to the work authorization process that would support families, reduce the burden on our shelter system, and help us address our state’s workforce needs,” said Healey.

Currently, an asylum seeker must wait 150 days from when they file an asylum application to when they can submit an application for employment authorization, and federal law prohibits the approval of that work permit until 180 days after their asylum application filing.

Changing that 180-day approval clock would require Congress to pass a law, and efforts to do that have been bipartisan, but slow-going.

The Biden administration, however, does have option of changing the rules of when asylum seekers can submit their applications for a work permit. Healey hopes that changing that timeline would lead to more prompt approvals.

The Biden administration can also change how long those work permits are good for. According to news reports, the administration is considering raising it from two to five years.

“Massachusetts is facing twin crises that aren’t unique to our state: We have rapidly rising numbers of migrant families arriving here who want to work but can’t get their work authorizations, and we are facing severe workforce shortages in all industries,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll.

Healey also requested changes to how U.S. Customs and Border Protection and USCIS collect information of migrants, specific to employment authorization, so that less appointments are needed to get work approval.

Corrected: September 08, 2023
This story was updated to correct the number of migrant families who arrived last month.