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.