How to Get a Work Permit in the U.S

Getting a U.S. work permit, which is also called an employment authorization document or EAD, is a pretty simple process. You need to fill out a short form, and send it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with the fee, photos, and documents that prove you are eligible (USCIS).

Who Can Get a Work Permit (EAD) to Work in the U.S.?

Only a small number of foreigners can get a work permit. Usually, these are people who are in the process of applying for a green card or who have a temporary right to be in the United States.

For example, EADs are available to people with a K-1 fiancé visa, asylees, spouses of people with different visas, people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), F-1 students who are having trouble with money or want to do optional practical training (OPT), etc. (For more information, see Who Can Get a Work Permit in the U.S.?)

Also, don’t mix up getting a work permit with getting a work-based visa to the U.S., like an H-1B. This is a much more difficult way to fill out an application. Read this article about how to get an H-1B visa to learn more. And a work permit is not the same as a U.S. green card, which shows that a person lives in the U.S. permanently.

How do I fill out Form I-765 to get a work permit from USCIS?

Form I-765 can be downloaded for free from the USCIS website. The following discusses the 07/26/22 version.

Self-explanatory form. Name, contact info, etc. are required. Question 22 asks for your most recent arrival into the U.S., even if you’ve been here for a long and just traveled abroad. “Entry method,” asks about your visa.

Question 27 may be the hardest. You can find the I-765 instructions on the USCIS website. Common categories include (a)(5) for asylum, (a)(12) for TPS, (c)(3)(C) for post-completion optional practical training, (c)(5) for J-2 spouses of a J-1 exchange visitor, and (c)(9) for anyone with a pending adjustment of status (green card) application.

If your category includes only two characters or numbers (like (c)(9), don’t bother about the three spaces (formed by the parentheses). Just add the “c” and “9” in parentheses.

What other proof do I need to show that I can get a work permit?

To verify you qualify for a work permit, photocopy your Question 29 status. Attach your asylum letter or judge’s order if you asked for asylum. Form I-765 instructions list the required documents.

If you’re applying for a work permit at the same time as adjustment of status or TPS, you don’t require proof of eligibility. Your application will determine your eligibility.

How do I pay for my EAD?

Late 2022: $410 charge. Check the USCIS website for the latest fees. If you’re requesting deferred action, applying for CNMI long-term resident status, or applying as a worker whose employment-based immigrant petition was approved but you face compelling circumstances (or are that person’s spouse or unmarried dependent child), you must also pay an $85 biometrics fee (for fingerprinting and such).

Some applicants don’t need to pay the I-765 application fee, such as those seeking to modify their status to earn a green card (their I-485 fee covers it); check the Form I-765 instructions to see whether you’re among them.

Money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Credit Card Authorization.

How do I submit EAD to USCIS?

Most candidates must mail USCIS Form I-765. Check the website’s address. It depends on your eligibility category and is different for U.S. mail and package/courier services.

Creating a USCIS account allows online filing in a few areas.

Before mailing your submission packet, copy everything, including the checks. Then, track USCIS’s decision-making process; it will take longer than you expect.

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