Employment Authorization Document

What is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?

An Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765), commonly referred to as 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?

You can apply for an EAD if your status in the U.S. falls within one of the following categories:

  • Asylee/Refugee Categories and their spouses and children
  • Nationality categories
  • Foreign Students
  • Eligible dependents of employees of diplomatic missions, international organizations, or NATO
  • Employment-based nonimmigrants
  • Family-based nonimmigrants
  • Adjustment-of-Status Categories

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).

If you have applied for a green card through consular processing (that is, from your home country), you need not apply for an EAD. On entry into the U.S. with your immigrant visa, you will be permitted to work. 

Also, if your nonimmigrant visa permits you to work in the U.S. (H-1B, L-1B, O, P) then you need not apply for an EAD.

How Can I Get an EAD?

If you are eligible to get an employment authorization document, you need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the USCIS. Depending on which category you are applying under, the supporting documents that you need to include with your application will differ. You will have to include the filing fee as well.

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 apply for EAD renewal.

As of 02/07/2022, USCIS grants new and renewed EADs that are valid for two years to the following:

  • Admitted as a refugee (a)(3);
  • Granted asylum (a)(5);
  • Granted withholding of deportation or removal (a)(10); and
  • VAWA self-petitioner (c)(31).

Also, applicants within the following categories will receive new and renewed EADs that will be valid till the end of their parole or deferred action period:

  • Paroled into the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit (c)(11); and
  • Granted deferred action (non-DACA) (c)(14).

What is the filing fee for an EAD?

The filing fee is $410. 

Depending on the category you belong to, you may be exempt from paying the fee. 

What is the Processing Time for an EAD Application?

The processing time for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, can range anywhere from 2 months to 13 months depending on where you apply.

Do I need a sponsor for my EAD?

No, you do not need an employer to sponsor an EAD for you. You can apply for an EAD on your own.

What to do if my employment authorization card has expired?

You are not allowed to work with an expired EAD. 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.

How to apply for a renewal of the employment authorization card?

To renew an expired EAD, you need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with the USCIS.

How to check the status of my EAD renewal application?

After you file your application to renew your EAD, you will receive a receipt notice (Form 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.

Can I get my EAD replaced?

If you have lost your EAD or if it was stolen or destroyed, you can apply for a replacement EAD by filing Form I-765 and paying the filing fee (if required). 

If there is an error on your EAD, and if the error was not due to an error made by the USCIS, you need to file a new Form I-765 and send the filing fee (if required), supporting documents, and the card with the error.

If there is an error on your card due to a USCIS error, you need not file a new form or pay any filing fee. You can send the card with the error to the USCIS along with a letter explaining the error and supporting documents to show the right information and the USCIS will replace the card.

How is a Green Card Different from an EAD?

An EAD is a document that proves you can work in the U.S. for a limited period. The EAD card comes with the dates to show for how long the authorization is valid.

A green card represents your immigration status as a legal permanent resident and proves that you can live and work permanently in the U.S. The green card too has an expiration date, but this date signifies the expiration of the card itself and not the status. Once you’re a permanent resident, your status does not expire.

Though you may be able to use your EAD card as an identification document, you cannot use it to reenter the U.S. after you travel abroad. 

A green card and your passport will suffice to allow you to travel abroad and get back into the country. 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 re-entry permit.