How to Get a Permit to Work in the U.S.?

Senate Bill to Set Up a Guest Worker Program

To work in the U.S., you need to be legally authorized to work here. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident to legally work in the country. If not, you need to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work here. This document will help you to establish that you are authorized to accept employment in the U.S. An EAD card is the permit that you need to obtain to work in the U.S.

Foreign nationals need to be authorized to work in the U.S. Likewise, U.S. employers will hire employees only after ensuring that they are authorized to work in the country. A U.S. work permit, an Employment Authorization Document, is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This proves that the holder of this card is authorized to work in America. EAD cards issued by the USCIS are renewable and these permits are granted for a one year period. To get an Employment Authorization Document, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization must be filed.

Who is Eligible for an Employment Authorization Document?

You can get a work permit if your nonimmigrant status authorizes you to work in the U.S. You can get this document if your nonimmigrant visa authorizes you to work for a specific employer in America. Non-immigrants who belong to a category that requires them to get permits to work in the country also can get EAD cards.

People who have been granted asylum or refugee status in the U.S. will have to obtain work permits to work in the U.S. This applies to the ones whose adjustment of status applications are pending. Individuals applying for temporary protected status need to get EADs. Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens also need to obtain work permits to work in the country.

U.S. citizens and Green Card holders need not obtain these documents to work here. Green Cards issued to the permanent residents prove that they can work legally in the country.

How Do I Apply for an EAD Card?

To get an EAD, you need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with few supporting documents and the form filing fee, with the USCIS. You can file Form I-765 to get a U.S. work permit online and you need to check if your category is eligible for online filing, prior to filing. If you file online, you will have to send the supporting documents to the address that is printed on the receipt notice that you receive after filing your form. If you file this form online, you will receive an application receipt notice soon after you submit your application along with the required fee.

In case you are ineligible for online filing, you can file the paper Form I-765. If you file the paper form at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you can file Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application or Petition Acceptance, to receive a notification when the USCIS accepts your form. You can send all the supporting documents along with your application to the right USCIS Lockbox facility.

Supporting Documents

  • Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure record.
  • Copies of previous EADs, if any.
  • Copy of your passport with your picture, name, and date of birth.
  • 2 photos. You need not submit paper photographs if you file this form online and you can submit digital photographs.
  • Other supporting documents to establish that you are eligible for an EAD, based on your category.

Filing Fee 

The form filing fee for Form I-765 is $380. If you file this form online, you can pay the fee online using your credit or debit card to pay the fee. If you are filing the paper application, you need to pay the filing fee through a check or a money order.

If you are filing this form along with your application for deferred action, you cannot file this form online. You can only file the paper application. In this case, your application must accompany the form filing fee of $380 and an $85 biometric services fee. A total of $465 must be paid, if you are filing Form I-485 along with Form I-821D.

Only the applicants applying for deferred action status must pay the biometrics fee along with the form filing fee. Applicants who belong to other employment categories need not pay the biometrics fee.

After filing Form I-765

A receipt notice, with a unique receipt number, will be mailed to you after the USCIS receives your petition. This number is your case number. This receipt will also include information about the Form I-765 processing time and the USCIS takes around 3 months to process these applications. You can use the case number that is printed on your receipt notice to check your case status.

After the approval of your petition, you will be issued a plastic EAD card. This card will either be sent to you by mail or you will be required to collect it from the local USCIS office. The date of expiration of the card will be printed on the card.

If your application is rejected for some reason, you will be sent a written notice with reasons for denial.

Concurrent Filing

Form I-765 can concurrently be filed online with Form I-131. But this applies only to the adjustment of status applicants, who must file the form with the required form filing fee.

Applicants filing Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, online can file applications for work permits, along with Form I-821. Applicants applying for TPS re-registration alone can file these two forms together.

Who can file Form I-765 Online?

  • Asylees
  • Refugees
  • Paroled refugees
  • Asylum applicants
  • Citizens of Micronesia/Marshall Islands or Palau
  • People applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or for TPS Re-registration.
  • Dependents of TECRO E-1 Nonimmigrant (CCNAA Member)
  • Foreign Students applying for Pre-Completion or Post-Completion OPT 12 Months or for 17-Month STEM Extension
  • F-1 Student who have been offered or who are seeking off-campus employment
  • J-2 Spouses or Minor Children of Exchange Visitors
  • M-1 Students Seeking Practical Training
  • B-1 Domestic Employees of non-immigrants
  • B-1 Domestic employees of certain US citizens
  • Spouse of E-1 or E-2 and L1 Non-immigrants
  • K-1 or K2 visa holders
  • Aliens Admitted (N-8 or N-9)
  • People granted withholding of deportation/243 (H)
  • Applicant for suspension of deportation
  • Public interest parolees

Who must file the paper Form I-765?

  • People applying for fee waivers must file the paper form.
  • People applying for deferred action status.
  • Applicants filing to correct data on their EAD cards due to USCIS administrative errors.
  • Applicants who are eligible for NACARA relief
  • Dependents of A-1 or A-2 Foreign Government Officials
  • Dependents of G-1, G-3 or G-4 Non-immigrants
  • NATO Dependents
  • Spouses of E-2 CNMI investors
  • K-3 non-immigrant spouses of US citizens or K-4 dependents
  • V-1, 2 or 3 Non-immigrants
  • Applicants Who Have Filed for Adjustment of Status and who are not required to pay the Form I-765 filing fee
  • T-1 non-immigrants
  • U-1 Non-immigrants
  • U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 non-immigrants
  • VAWA self petitioners
  • Deferred action applicants


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