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The Employment Authorization Card Explained

In the United States, all businesses are required by law to check the status of potential employees and ensure that they’re authorized to work. To do this, employers can ask their potential employees to provide proof of citizenship (like a U.S. passport), proof of permanent residency (a green card) or an Employment Authorization Card (EAD).

What is an Employment Authorization Card?

An EAD proves that you are legally allowed to work in the U.S. for a certain period of time. An EAD is only necessary if you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.

Who Can Get an Employment Authorization Card?

In general, you can apply for an EAD if your status in the U.S. (or in some cases, the status of your spouse and parent) is within one of the following categories:

  • Asylee/Refugee
  • Nationality category
    • There are EAD applicants who are citizens of certain countries that are part of specific protection programs/agreements with the U.S.
  • Foreign/Exchange visitors
  • Diplomatic mission, international organization, or NATO employees
  • Employment-based nonimmigrants
    • There are EAD applicants who are either foreign workers with special skills or foreign investors
  • Family-based nonimmigrants
    • These are EAD applicants who are eligible family members of U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents
  • Adjustment-of-Status Categories
    • These are EAD applicants who have applied for adjustment of status from inside the U.S. and are still waiting for their final approval for a green card

You may also be able to apply for an EAD if you have certain types of special visas (like N, T, U visas) or are in special immigration programs (like DACA, LIFE or VAWA).

What is the Validity of an Employment Authorization Card?

The validity of an EAD will change depending on the category through which you received the document. In most cases, an EAD will be valid for one year, and then you’d have to renew.

What to do if my employment authorization card has expired?

You are not allowed to work with an expired EAD. If you’re still eligible to work past the expiration date, you can apply for renewal of your EAD 180 days before it expires.

How to apply for renewal of employment authorization card?

To renew an expired EAD, the USCIS requires applicants to submit a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization via postal mail to the correct Service Center or Lockbox.

How to check the status of my employment authorization card application?

After you file your application to renew your EAD, you should receive a receipt notice (From I-797) from the USCIS letting you know that your application has been accepted. Once you have the receipt notice, you can use your receipt notice number to check the status of your application through the USCIS website.

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