¿Habla español? | Our firm is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Bengali, Creole, Punjabi, Gujarat, and Afrikaans!

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Guide On How To Get The United States’ Employment Authorization

Guide On How To Get The United States’ Employment Authorization

Guide On How To Get The United States’ Employment Authorization

Moving to the United States changes your life, both your personal and professional life. You can immigrate to work here on a short-term or long-term basis, you can establish new relationships, and you can even become a US citizen. However, not everyone who immigrated to the United States can work.

While green card holders can work, some employment visa holders can also work. For the rest outside this category, you will need an employment authorization document (EAD), also known as a work permit. A work permit is a document issued by the US government that permits immigrants to work in America.

You do not need to be a green card holder to get a work permit in the US. However, you will require an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa that permits you to reside in the US. A work permit is also available to people under the DACA program.

Employment authorization is a short-term work permit. This allows the holder to apply for and obtain jobs legally. However, obtaining this permit can be challenging. Holders of this permit need to maintain their immigration status. Obtaining this permit will allow you to obtain employment opportunities.

In this blog, you will understand useful information on US employment authorization.

Overview of the Employment Authorization

The United States employment authorization isn’t your visa card. It is just documentation designed to give you a legal way to work while you wait for your visa to finish processing. If your visa isn’t a work visa, like a fiancé visa, a family visa, or a student visa, you don’t automatically have work authorization.

Thus, you still need an employment authorization document (EAD) to work in the United States. Legal status in the US doesn’t mean you have legal working status. Once you receive your employment authorization document, you can start working in the US, no matter your visa type.

Employment authorization documents (EADs) are a type of work permit issued by the United States government. They are also known as work permits or employment authorization cards. Work permits are photo identification cards issued by the USCIS. They look very similar to driver’s licenses.

An EAD is a document that permits an immigrant or foreign national to enter the United States to work. The EAD card includes the following information about the holder:

  • First name
  • Last Nam
  • Birthday
  • State
  • State of birth
  • Gender
  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Number
  • Passport photo – this is at the front and back side
  • Specific graphic and color palette (bald eagle with mainly red)
  • Hologram

The employment authorization document (EAD) design was last updated in May 2017. Special security features enhance the EAD card’s security and reduce the risk of fraud.

Working Without An Employment Authorization

The USCIS takes legal employment very seriously. You must have an employment authorization document (EAD) to be able to work in the United States while your green card application is being processed. If you start working without an EAD, your green card may be revoked and you may not be able to get permanent immigration status.

This means that working in the US is extremely risky without an employment authorization card. If you work without authorization, you could be subject to expulsion by the government. You could also be barred from entering the United States for 3 to 10 years, and it will be much more difficult for you to obtain temporary or permanent immigration status in the long run.

For instance, if you do not have a valid work permit and are working while in the US on a visitor’s visa and then apply for a student visa, your student visa will almost certainly be denied. A work permit is also necessary for short-time or “under-the-table” employment.

Even though you may only be paid for a few hours of work, working without a permit can lead to serious immigration issues in the future. The moral of the story is this: Don’t work in the US without employment authorization, or you will be in serious trouble.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about getting a work permit because it is easy to apply for one with the help of an immigration lawyer. If you apply for a work permit and green card concurrently, you don’t have to pay an extra fee!

 Work visas versus work permits

Many people misunderstand the difference between a work permit and a work visa. If you are one of them, you are not alone. A work visa permits you to reside in the United States and work for an employer who has applied for it on your behalf. The work visa remains valid as long as the employee continues to work for the employer.

However, the employee can only work for the employer while residing in the United States. If the employee leaves the employer, they can’t work for another employer until they obtain a new immigration status. On the other hand, employment authorization cards (work permits) aren’t tied to an employer.

After obtaining a work permit, an immigrant can work for almost any employer in the United States. As long as your immigration status allows you to continue working, you can renew your work permit. Be aware of the expiration date of your work permit so that you can apply for an extension and give USCIS time to process your application.

Your immigration status determines the length of your work permit. Most immigrants must renew their work permits annually. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, since May 2022, asylum employment authorization cards have been valid for 540 days (about 1.5 years).

If you don’t know how much longer your work permit lasts, you can check the expiry date on the back of your work permit card. Employers in the United States need to verify that you have a valid work permit before they will hire you. You can show your work permit to potential employers to show that you can work legally in the United States.

Eligibility for employment authorization

Anyone who is waiting for their green card is eligible for work authorization. There are many categories of immigrants who are eligible for work permits. The USCIS offers a detailed list of eligible categories to help you decide if you are eligible. But here are some examples:

Employment authorization is also available to asylum seekers who have been waiting for a decision on their asylum application for at least 150 days. Refugees approved for asylum in the United States may also be eligible for an EAD for work purposes.

DACA recipients can apply for an employment authorization that entitles them to work in the US for the same time as their current DACA status, usually two years. Also, TPS holders can request employment authorization. This will enable them to work in the United States during their TPS period.

You may also be eligible for an EAD if you are a nonimmigrant visa holder or a parolee. A VAWA self-petitioner or one of the spouses of someone holding a nonimmigrant visa (for example, an H-4, an L-2, or an E-2 visa holder) can also apply. It is important to read the USCIS guidelines carefully to determine eligibility based on your immigration status.

Ineligible persons

Work permit eligibility is simple. If you have an immigration status that allows you to work or already have that status, you can apply for a work permit. If you are not eligible for that status, then you cannot apply for that status. B-1 visa holders and undocumented immigrants cannot apply for employment authorization.

USCIS will never issue work permits to those immigrants, and it is against federal law for US employers to employ them. However, they may qualify for humanitarian status, such as asylum, while in the United States.

If you are an immigrant with a B-1 visa holder or an undocumented immigrant who needs to work in the United States, you should consult with an immigration lawyer before doing any work. You may have a status that would qualify you for an employment authorization document, but working without a permit may prevent you from obtaining that status.

The application process

There are five simple steps to apply for an employment authorization document:

  1. Get an immigration status that allows you to work.

To get a work permit in the United States, you need an immigration status that authorizes you to work. Many different immigration statuses can apply for work permits, such as:

  • Refugees.
  • Asylum seekers.
  • Student visa holders.
  • K-1 fiancé visa holders.
  1. Preparing form I-765.

Fill in your name, address, and eligibility information on the USCIS form I-765. Include your last entry into the United States, including your “manner of entry” (the visa used to enter the United States after your last trip abroad). Select the right code to explain why you are eligible to work in the US.

  1. Prepare supporting documents.

Some of these documents include:

  • Copy of passport photo page.
  • Your current US visa (if you are in the US).
  • Your original I-94 (front and back) travel record.
  • Copy of previous work permits.
  • Copy of two recent passport-style photos.

You do not need to submit a receipt notice for your immigrant visa application if you are applying for permanent residence simultaneously with your work permit.

  1. Pay fee.

USCIS processes the I-765 forms for a fee, including an additional biometric fee for “DACA” immigrants. However, some immigrants don’t have to pay this fee, for example, if they are applying for a green card adjustment or filing for their first asylum work permit.

If you renew with I-765, you will need to pay the filing fee or ask USCIS to waive the fee. You can pay with a money order, a personal check, or a cashier’s check made out to your I-765 form. If you are filing at one of the USCIS lockbox facilities, you can pay with credit or debit cards by submitting forms I-765 and G-1450.

Service centers cannot accept credit card payments.

  1. Submit your application.

Once you have filled out the I-765, gathered your supporting documents, and paid the filing fee, send your work permit application directly to USCIS. Include a cover letter along with your paperwork to ensure the government knows exactly what is contained in your application.

Most immigrants cannot upload their I-765 forms online, so if you are submitting an immigration status application along with your employment authorization application, send your entire application in one go. Your employment authorization application address will depend on your location, the location of your visa interview, and your mail carrier.

Check the USCIS website addresses to ensure you are sending the correct address. Copy everything in your packet (including checks) before sending it to the USCIS.

The processing time

Once you file a work permit application with USCIS, processing time is typically 2 – 7 months. However, USCIS processes some employment authorization applications (e.g., asylum work permits) faster. When USCIS receives your paperwork, a receipt notice (a receipt number) will be sent to you.

You may receive a receipt notice 2 – 3 weeks after filing your application. You can use the receipt number to monitor your application progress on the USCIS website.

Get help!

Our skilled immigration lawyers at Gehi and Associates can help you apply for your visa and employment authorization document (EAD). An employment authorization status allows you to begin your new life in the US. We can work with you throughout your visa application process to ensure you can legally work in the US.

Call us today to learn more!

Share it!

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Free Consultation

Scroll to Top

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Signup to our email newsletter for Legal Updates, Tips & Webinars!

Skip to content