How to Obtain Employment Authorization
Many foreign nationals come to the United States each year to live and work. But obtaining employment if you are not a US citizen can be challenging. There are strict processes you need to follow in order to legally earn a wage in America.
There are several routes you can go down if you wish to work in the US, but one option is to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows you to work for a fixed period.
This is a great option for foreign nationals who are waiting for their green card or are only planning to be in the country for a limited amount of time.
The following article looks at Employment Authorization in more detail, outlining who is eligible and how to apply. This information should equip you with all the necessary tools to live and work in the United States. Read on to learn more.
What is Employment Authorization?
An Employment Authorization Document is an official document that allows foreign nationals to work in the United States for a fixed period. It is also known as a work permit or Form I-766. The EAD takes the form of a small plastic card that serves as proof that the holder has legal authorization to uphold paid employment for a pre-agreed length of time, usually one year.
Since Employment Authorization is only valid for a fixed period, it is often used by those who are only planning to stay in the country for a short time, such as students, tourists, or foreign relatives of a US citizen. It is also an important document for immigrants who are in the process of applying for permanent residence, as it allows them to work while they wait for their green card to be approved.
With a valid EAD card, there are no restrictions on the type of work an individual may hold. They can apply for any job that is available on the open market, and will not be bound to a particular employer.
Who is Eligible for Employment Authorization?
There are several conditions that must be met in order for an individual to be eligible for Employment Authorization. The work permit is available to anyone who has a pending green card application, so in this case you will already meet the specific green card eligibility requirements.
However, if you are not in the process of applying for permanent residence, you can still get an Employment Authorization Document if you fall under one of the following categories
- Those under temporary protected status such as asylum seekers, refugees or their dependents (spouses and children)
- International students with valid F1 and M1 status who wish to complete optional practical training
- Individuals from certain countries
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients
- Those under Deferred Enforced Departure
- Those with a pending I-485 Form (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)
- Those with a pending I-589 Form (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal)
- H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
- L2 Visa holders
- K3 Visa holders
- K4 Visa holders
- J2 Visa holders
- P-4 Visa holders
- Eligible dependents of employees of diplomatic missions, International Organization, or NATO
- Spouses of non-immigrant employment-based visa holders (E1, E2, or the E3 work visa)
If you are on a business visa, your visa gives you work rights and you do not need to obtain Employment Authorization. If you’re unsure about your ability to work in the US, it’s best to check with a qualified immigration attorney.
How to Apply for Employment Authorization
Applying for Employment Authorization is a relatively straightforward process, although the exact procedure will vary depending on your current visa or immigration status. Listed below are the steps you will need to follow in order to legally work in the United States.
Step 1: File Form I-765
Form I-675, otherwise known as Application for Employment Authorization, is essential for any foreign citizen wishing to work in the US. You can file this form alongside your green card application, or any time afterwards. Or if you are in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa that allows you to work under the condition that you have an EAD, you can apply at any time before starting employment. You can file Form I-765 on the USCIS website.
Step 2: Supply Supporting Documents
Your application will need to be accompanied by various supporting documents to prove your identity and that you meet the specific eligibility requirements. These documents may vary depending on your status, but will include at a minimum:
- I-94 travel record
- Current US visa
- Previous work permits
- Passport-style photos
- Green card application official acknowledgement letter
Step 3: Await Approval
Once your form has been submitted alongside your supporting documents, you will simply need to wait for your case to be either approved or denied. It generally takes between five and seven months for USCIS to process Form I-765. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, it is likely that your case will be approved. However, denial can occur if you have made mistakes on your form or have failed to include any of the required supporting documents. In these circumstances, you will be able to file your application again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I renew my EAD card if it expires?
Your Employment Authorization Document will only be valid for a select period of time, and it’s possible that it may expire before you get your green card or are scheduled to leave the US. In this situation, it is understandable that you might want to renew it so you can carry on working. Fortunately this is possible, and you can renew your EAD by simply filing Form I-765 again. The same applies if your card is lost or damaged.
How much does Employment Authorization Cost?
The processing fee for an EAD is $410, while biometrics cost $85.
Do You Need Help Obtaining an EAD?
If you would like to know more about applying for Employment Authorization when immigrating to the United States, get in touch with Nanthaveth & Associates for a free consultation.