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EAD – Employment Authorization Document

An EAD serves as an official identification document of the U.S. and as physical proof that you are allowed to work in the country for a specific period of time.

The EAD has your picture and fingerprint as well as some immigration identification numbers such as your USCIS number and the visa category under which you have received your EAD. It also contains general biographical information such as your full name, your date of birth and place of birth.

The following are some FAQ’s that can help you better understand the EAD.

What does EAD mean?

EAD is short for Employment Authorization Document.

How is a green card different from an EAD?

An EAD is just a document that proves you can work in the U.S. for a limited period of time. The EAD shows a “valid from” date and an expiration date that signify exactly how long you’re allowed to work.

An EAD is not the same as a green card.

A green card proves that you can live and work permanently in the U.S. and it represents your immigration status as a legal permanent resident. You don’t need to apply for an EAD if you’re a permanent resident. The “valid from” date and expiration date on a green card only signify the expiration of the card itself and not the status. Once you’re a permanent resident, your status does not expire.

Another way that the EAD differs from a green card is that an EAD cannot be used as proof that you can reenter the U.S.

A green card and your passport will suffice to allow you to travel abroad and get back into the country, but the immigration officer at a port-of-entry will require more documentation from you if you only show him an EAD. If you’re not a permanent resident and you’re traveling in and out of the U.S., you will most likely need to show a valid visa stamp inside your passport and a U.S. travel document, such as a reentry permit.

How long can you have an EAD?

In most cases, an EAD can be issued for one year or two years depending on the category under which you have obtained your EAD.

Do you need a sponsor for an EAD?

If you’re the main applicant for the EAD, you don’t need a sponsor. This means that you don’t need someone else to apply for the EAD with you. You can apply for it yourself.

However, to get an EAD, you do need to have documentation that applies to your specific category. This may require you to provide some documents that show you have been previously approved for certain immigration benefits that give you the right to work legally in the U.S.

How to get an EAD?

To get an EAD, you must be eligible to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and be able to provide supporting documents with your application.

What is the processing time for an EAD?

The processing time for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, the form you must file to get an EAD, can range anywhere between 2 months to 5 months.

Can an EAD be renewed?

Yes. An EAD can be renewed if you’re still eligible under the same category under which you got your previous EAD. If your EAD is expiring or has expired, you will need to file a new Form I-765. It’s not recommended to file a renewal EAD application more than 180 days before your original expires.

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