Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (for a U.S. Work Permit)

US Work Permit Card

What is Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization?

All U.S. citizens and green card holders (i.e. lawful permanent residents) may seek employment in the U.S. without any special permission. Individuals with temporary non-immigrant status need to acquire authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be able to work in the U.S. This authorization is the gained by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. If approved, the applicant receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), otherwise known as a Work Permit. Bear in mind that only certain non-immigrant visa categories are allowed to apply for Employment Authorization; this is not something open to every non-immigrant visa class.

EAD cards are typically valid for one year, but some visa categories may be issued longer work permits. You can apply for a renewal of an EAD within 120 days of your work permit expiring – provided you are still under an immigration category that is eligible to receive a work permit. To put it another way, if your immigration status changes in such a way where your new category is ineligible for Employment Authorization, your application for renewal will not be approved.

Who is Eligible for a U.S. Work Permit?

U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, and conditional permanent residents are already authorized to work in the U.S and do not need to apply for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Individuals on a non-immigrant employment visa that ties them a specific employer (e.g. H-1B, L-1B, O, TN or P visa) also don’t need to apply. There are two main non-immigrant visa groups eligible to apply for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These are:

1. Individuals who have non-immigrant status that already authorize them to work in the United States but need evidence to show potential employers they can legally work. This group encompasses asylees, refugees, or U-nonimmigrant status holders.

2. The second group eligible to apply for Employment Authorization Documents are foreign nationals in the U.S. under various non-immigrant visa categories who need to apply for permission from USCIS to work. These are:

  • Green Card applicants waiting for the decision regarding their case or those who applied for an Adjustment of Status (i.e. they have a pending Form I-485 application)
  • Asylum seekers allowed to stay in the U.S. who have a pending Form I-589, or Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.
  • Individuals in the United States under a F-1 or M-1 student visa.
  • The spouses of certain employment-based E1, E2, and (some) H1-B visa holders.
  • Individuals eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau citizens
  • Spouses of L-1 visa holders.

Important Information for Asylum Seekers

As of August 25, 2020, asylum seekers must wait to apply for employment authorization at least 365 calendar days after filing a complete asylum application.

Asylum seekers are only eligible to receive employment authorization if they:

  • Entered the United States lawfully, which means they were inspection and admitted or paroled at an airport or border checkpoint;
  • Filed the asylum application within one year from the date of last arrival into the United States (with limited exceptions);
  • Appeared for any scheduled biometric services appointments related to the application for asylum or employment authorization;
  • Appeared at the interview with a USCIS asylum officer, or at the hearing before an immigration judge, if requested or scheduled;
  • Have not caused any delays related to the asylum application; and
  • Have not yet received a final decision on their asylum application (note that a referral to an immigration judge after an interview with the USCIS Asylum Office is not a final decision).

How to Apply for a U.S. Work Permit

An application for Employment Authorization should have the following required documents:

  • Completed Form I-765
  • USCIS fees
  • 2 passport-size photos
  • A copy of Form I-94 (your Arrival/Departure Record)
  • Proof of eligibility to apply for Employment Authorization
  • Any additional supporting documents, depending on eligibility qualification

What is the Processing Time for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (U.S. Work Permit)?

The processing time for a Form I-766 application is typically much quicker than a green card application. Applications are usually resolved in less than 6 months; however, this may take longer if the applicant receives a RFE (Request for Evidence) from the USCIS. If such a request is received, the applicant can expect another 60-90 days of processing time after submitting the required evidence.

For more information on the Application for Employment Authorization process or for help filling out your I-765 form, contact us today.

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