How to Get a Work Permit
This guide will help you understand what a work permit or Employment Authorization is, who needs a work permit in the U.S.A, How to apply for one, How long does it take to get a work permit and what to do when it expires or is stolen.
What is a Work Permit?
The word Work Permit is quite self-explanatory. It basically means the permission to work in the United States.
Why do you need it?
Foreign Nationals (like us Indians) living in the U.S. cannot work here legally unless they have received the permission to do so under the terms of their visa or other status.
A Work Permit is a photo identity card much like your Pan Card or a Driving License issued by the USCIS and is also known as the Employment Authorization Document or EAD.
Who can apply for a Work-Permit?
Based on the immigration status of the applicant, THE EAD card is issued for a given period of time. Once granted, applicants may legally work anywhere in the U.S. for any employer and without them having to file a non-immigrant worker petition. You may apply for an EAD if you belong to any of the following visa qualifying categories:
K-1, K-2 or K-3
L-1 spouses under the category a18
Asylee and Refugee
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipient
Applicant waiting for Adjustment of Status
H1 Spouses under certain circumstances (i.e. when their spouse has an i140 approved). Category is c26
How to Submit a Work Permit Application
To get an EAD, you need to file a US work permit application form (form I-765). The eligibility requirements to get one vary depending on which visa you have. However, there is some general documentation you need in order to apply:
Copy of your I-94 travel record (front and back), if available, or a printout of your electronic I-94 obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Copy of your U.S. visa (a document placed in your passport)
Copy of your passport photo page
Copies of previous work permits (front and back), if any
Two 2-inch-by-2-inch passport-style photos of yourself taken recently (print your full name and Alien Registration Number on the back of each with a pencil or felt-tip pen)
G-28 form if you are represented by an attorney
If you have not been issued a work permit before, you must also submit a copy of one of the following forms of government-issued identification:
Birth certificate and/or a photo ID
Other national identity document with your photo and/or fingerprint
Additional documents might include proof of your spouse’s visa status, marriage certificates, or an employment proposal letter.
What is the fees for filing my EAD
The filing fee for the US work permit costs 410 USD. In addition to that, you might also need to pay an extra 85 USD for biometric services. Some applicants might be exempt from paying the fees in specific cases.
You may pay the fee with a money order, personal check or cashier’s check. When filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you may also pay by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Service centers are not able to process credit card payments.
How long does it take to get a work permit?
Earlier it used to take around 5-7 months for USCIS to process work permit. Before that it used to be processed within 90 days but due a growing backlog, there’s a delay in most applications and these days it's taking anywhere between 8-12 months and sometimes even longer.
Work Permit Renewal
If you already have an EAD and if it is about to expire you can file for a renews EAD with the same for i-765. You need to apply for the renewal before the original expires but the application is not processed more than 6 months prior to the expiration date.
Replacing an EAD
EAD card are replaced for many different reasons. If a card is lost, stolen, or contains incorrect information, it may be necessary to file a new Form I-765 and pay a filing fee. If the USCIS processing center made a mistake when creating the card, the Form and filing fees are not required. In some cases, a fee waiver can be requested for all fees.
What to do after you get your EAD?
Once you have your EAD card, you are now eligible to work for any employer in the United States. Your employer will ask you to share your Social Security as well as your Work Permit (EAD Card) as proof of your eligibility to work in the U.S.
As long as you have a social security number and a work permit, it’s illegal for employers in the United States to discriminate against you because of your immigration status. You’ll be required to pay payroll and income taxes in the United States, just like everyone else.
What Happens if your work without Authorization?
A lot of people think that it is okay to work without proper documentation. It is not. Working without proper authorization can put your future Green Card application at risk. USCIS will closely scrutinize any green card application from an applicant who has previously worked without authorization.
Unless you have some other immigration status that allows you to work (e.g. H-1B), it’s important that you don’t do any kind of paid work until your work permit has arrived.
- You need a work permit to work in the United States
- The Work Permit is also known as the EAD. It is in the form of a card that is given for a given amount of time.
- Based on your Visa category and status you are eligible for a work permit.
- You need to fill the form i-765, submit the necessary fees to get a work permit. Check the documents you need to submit carefully before submitting the application.
- It will take around 8-12 months these days to get your EAD
- You can renew it 6 months before it is about to expire.