When you temporarily migrate to the U.S to secure employment, you will not be eligible to work until you obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also commonly known as a work permit. However, if you apply for a green card to live in the U.S permanently, you can work with any employer anywhere without discrimination or restriction. 

All U.S. employers are not authorized to hire prospective employees without checking their immigration status or employment authorization. For an easy time making your work permit application, you need to find an expert who is aware of U.S immigration laws to help you meet USCIS eligibility requirements for work authorization. California Immigration Attorney can make this process less of a hassle for you so that you can prepare for your job interviews and recruitment ahead of time to start working.

Understanding the U.S Immigration Laws on Working as a Foreigner

Many people migrate to the U.S every year for many reasons, including education, employment, and permanent residency. The U.S has become a world of power in terms of economic growth because of immigration. Immigrants working in the U.S in various sectors like health have contributed significantly to the development of the U.S economy. 

Unless you have a green card that gives your permanent residence in the U.S, if you move here temporarily to seek employment, you must file Form I-765 with USCIS to obtain an EAD/work permit. A work permit is typically a card the size of a driving license that shows your personal information, including your picture and immigration status.

Otherwise, you may not qualify for any job without a work permit because it is unlawful for employers to hire foreign employees regardless of nationality without an EAC/work permit. However, immigrants applying for permanent resident status (green card) do not need to obtain an EAD/work permit because a green card allows them to work at any job and anywhere in the country.

A work permit will not only authorize you to work in the U.S as a foreigner, but it will also help you obtain other crucial documentation like a driving license and social security number. A foreigner having these documentations is a privilege because he/she cannot receive an arrest for driving without an unlawful license. 

To maneuver the U.S immigration laws' complexity when seeking a work permit, you need to contact an immigration attorney who is aware of these laws to the core for legal counsel to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements. California Immigration Attorney will make sure you file the right paperwork to show you're eligible for the EAD because any misfiled or missing information can affect your eligibility and miss a job opportunity.

Immigrants Who Need a U.S Work Permit

Numerous immigrants in the U.S must request a work permit from the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by filing Form I-765 if they wish to accept employment here. These categories of immigrants include:

  1. Asylees/Refugees

Individuals with refugee status or asylum can pursue jobs in the U.S, but first, they need to obtain a work permit from the USCIS. U.S immigration laws allow asylees/refugees together with their spouses and children to obtain a work permit by filing Form I-765, which you can download for free on the USCIS website. 

A person wishing to obtain a U.S work permit as a refugee or asylee must submit Form I-765 within 150 days after filing the asylum claim and attach the necessary documents to prove his/her refugee/asylee status.

  1. People of Certain Statuses/Nationalities

The following category of people are eligible to obtain a work permit in the U.S using Form I-765:

  • Temporary Protected Status
  • Micronesia citizens, the Marshall Islands
  • Dependents of TECRO E-1
  • Particular NACARA Section 203 applicants
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
  1. Foreign Student

Some students studying here are eligible to use Form I-765 to obtain employment authorizations. Work permit eligibility requirements for people with this kind of immigration status are fairly technical. Students who can file Form I-765 include:

  • F-1 student looking for an income-earning job due to harsh economic problems
  • J-2 spouse
  • F-1 students with an off-campus job offer with sponsorship or support of a qualifying international organization
  • F-1 students looking for Optional Practical Training (OPT) in a job that directly relates to their course, for example, post-completion optional practical training
  • M-1 students searching for practical training after course completion 
  1. Diplomatic Employees' Dependants

Particular dependants of diplomatic employees can file Form I-765 to request a work permit, for example:

  • Dependant of NATO
  • A-2 Government officials or Dependent of A-1
  • G-4 non-immigrant – (c)(4) or Dependent of G-1 and G-3
  1. Employment-Based Non-immigrants

People living in the U.S or who wish to move here to secure employment temporarily, including their spouses, can obtain an EAD/work permit from USCIS by filing Form I-765. These individuals include:

  • B-1 non-immigrant with a job in a foreign airline
  • B-1 non-immigrant who is a domestic or personal server of a non-immigrant employer –(c)(17)(i)
  • Wife of an E-2 CNMI investor – (c)(12)
  • B-1 non-immigrant personal/domestic server of a U.S citizen
  1. Family-Based Non-immigrants

Some particular family members of U.S citizens are eligible to obtain a work permit by filing Form I-765, including:

  • S citizen K-1 nonimmigrant fiancé(e) or K-2 dependent
  • S citizen K-3 nonimmigrant spouse or K-4 dependent
  • V-1, V-2 or non-immigrant
  1. People a Pending Green Card Application

If you apply for a green card (Form-485) for permanent U.S residency, it will take about seven to thirty-three months to process, but that should not make you lose a job opportunity. Before you receive a confirmation of your green card application status, you can file a Form I-765 with an immigrant attorney's help to obtain an EAD/work permit to apply for jobs that you are eligible for in the meantime. 

Otherwise, even if a green card allows you to apply for employment anywhere in the U.S, you will not be able to seek employment without a work permit before you receive a confirmation of your green card application status 

People Who Should Not Use Form I-765 

Obtaining an EAD or work permit is not straightforward. You can apply for a U.S work permit as long as your immigration status allows you to work here. The following class of people cannot use Form I-765 to seek employment authorization:

  • Non-immigrant with authorization of working for one specific employer only
  • Green card holders (lawful permanent residents)
  • B-1 visa holders or undocumented immigrants
  • Conditional residents

Remember, working in the U.S. as a temporary immigrant without a work permit is illegal and can lead to deportation and worse inadmissible consequences. It is also unlawful for employers to hire prospective employees without inquiring about their immigration status or work permit.

To know whether you qualify to use Form I-765, you should find an experienced immigration attorney because these laws keep changing. Not everyone will be eligible to use Form I-765 for seeking a work permit. However, if you retain a reliable attorney, you can increase your chances of qualifying for a U.S work permit. 

At California Immigration Attorney, we have a record of success helping immigrants in California obtain EAD/work permits to pursue their professional dreams without wasting unnecessary time.

How to Apply for an EAD/Work Permit

If you live in the U.S or want to migrate here to seek employment, you can file a work permit request electronically or by mail. However, for you to meet the eligibility requirements by the USCIS for obtaining a work permit, you need to understand how to file Form I-765 application. To prove that you qualify for a work permit to work in California, you need to follow the following crucial steps:

  1. Apply for an Immigration Status That Will Allow You to Seek Employment

Suppose you are looking forward to securing a job in California or other states in the U.S. In that case, you need to apply for an immigration status that allows you to work here because particular immigrants like B-1 visa holders cannot use Form I-765. If you already have immigration status, you can proceed to the next step, which is the preparation of Form I-765.

  1. Prepare Form I-765

As discussed above, you need to use Form I-765 when applying for an EAD or work permit to pursue your dream job anywhere in the U.S. Form I-765 for applying for work authorization in the U.S is simple and quite self-explanatory. However, you need an immigration attorney by your side to ensure you fill and file the correct information because any unclear details can affect your eligibility for a work permit. You will need to fill the following type of information in Form I-765 for employment authorization:

  • Why you are eligible for an EAD/work permit
  • Your Name
  • Contact Information

If you are an asylee or currently waiting for a green card, you can indicate this as the reason why you are applying for a temporary work permit.

  1. Prepare Your Application Supporting Documents

You need to attach various documents on Form I-765 before sending it via mail to USCIS to show why you are an excellent candidate to obtain an EAD/work permit. Your immigration attorney will make sure the following documents are available as supporting documents for your EAD/work permit application to increase your chances of employment authorization:

  • A photocopy of the documentation that shows your immigration status, for example, an asylee office letter granting you asylum
  • A copy of previous or recent EAD, if applicable
  • A copy of any government-issued identity card, for example, a passport, national I.D. with a fingerprint/photo, or a birth certificate with photo I.D (if you've never had a work permit before)
  • Two passport-sized color photographs taken within the last 30 days. You must write your name and assigned alien number lightly at the back of each photograph
  • A copy of the U.S government "Receipt Notice" for applying for an immigrant visa if you're applying for a work permit alongside an immigrant visa. However, if you are applying for a green card, you don't need to attach a receipt notice
  1. Pay USCIS Work Permit Application Fee

USCIS work permit processing fee is $410 as of mid-2020. The USCIS Form I-765 filing fee keeps changing now and then, so you must check the current fee on their website before making any payment. Particular classes of people filing Form I-765 for the first time don't have to pay USCIS Form I-765 filing fee, for example:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • U-1 non-immigrants
  • VAWA Self-Petitioners
  • Victims of severe human trafficking 
  • N-8 or N-9 non-immigrants
  • People on parole as a refugee
  • Dependents of an international organization or foreign government

USCIS may also require you to make a biometric appointment at their office to collect your fingerprints, signature, and photograph. Failing to attend a biometric appointment can affect your eligibility for a work permit. The fee for biometric services is $85, and no one is in exception to this fee. You can pay these fees via cashier's check, money order, or personal check directly to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

You can also obtain another EAD if your previous card contains erroneous information or if it is lost. However, you will have to pay the USCIS work permit application fee again unless if you are:

  • A dependent of an international organization or foreign government
  • Your EAD card contains errors like a misspelled name because of the USCIS mistake

The USCIS will not refund your work permit application fee, including the biometric services fee if they reject your EAD/work permit request. That is why you should make this application with an expert who understands California immigration laws to the core to increase your chances of meeting EAD eligibility requirements as per USCIS.

  1. Submit Your EAD/Work Permit Application

After gathering all essential documents for applying for a work permit and paying all required fees by the USCIS, you should proceed to the next step, submitting the EAD application. You can submit your EAD application online via mail or courier service, including a cover letter to let the USCIS officials know what they are receiving from you precisely.

Suppose you must submit your EAD/work permit application via mail. In that case, you must check the USCIS website to know which address they are currently using for individuals in your immigration status category. Typically, the address you will use when sending an EAD application via mail will depend on:

  • Reason for filing Form I-765
  • Where you live
  • Where you want to have any essential visa interview
  • The mail carrier you decide to use to send your EAD/work permit application

Ensure you check the USCIS website for correct addresses to get your mail at the right recipient/location because these addresses can change with time. Your immigration attorney will ensure that your EAD/work permit is error-free so that you cannot miss that job opportunity whose deadline is almost due.

Once you submit your Form I-765 EAD application to USCIS, you will receive a notification or message of your application status via mail after about five to seven months. However, once USCIS receives your EAD application form, they will send you a "Receipt Notice" after two to three weeks to let you know they are reviewing your Form I-765 application. You can use your receipt number that USCIS provides you to track your application status online at their website.

What to Do After Receiving a Work Permit/EAD

If USCIS accepts your application status, you will need to get a Social Security Number (SSN) so that you can begin working anywhere in the U.S legally. Luckily, when you file Form I-765, you will have the privilege to apply for a social security number at the same time as your EAD/work permit. Ensure you look for this option when filling out Form I-765 for work authorization.

Once you start working and have your work permit and SSN, your employer must complete Form I-765 to show that you are allowed to work here. If you have a U.S work permit and SSN, it will be unlawful for any employer to discriminate against you because of your immigration status. Remember, if you choose to work here, you have to be ready to pay U.S income taxes and payroll just like every other citizen.

Switching or Renewing an EAD/Work Permit

Most immigrants who come to California or any other state in the U.S for one reason end up staying for another. For instance, you might come here as a student and fall in love with a U.S citizen and maybe want to marry him/her. You might also come here with a work visa to work for a specific employer and find another job with a different company that pays you better.

Whatever the case, if you choose to extend your period here or switch your immigration status, you will need to obtain a new work permit by filing Form I-765 to USCIS. For instance, if you are a student working through the OPT program as a requirement for your course, you marry a U.S citizen. In that case, you should submit a new Form I-765 to USCIS with your Marriage Green Card application even if your current EAD/work permit is still valid.

If USCIS grants you a work permit to work here, you should pay close attention to the card's expiration date because it lasts for just one year. Your employer has a legal responsibility to ensure all his/her foreign employees have a valid work permit. Working with an expired or invalid work permit can put you and your employer in trouble in case of unexpected arrest in an immigration raid.

You will be at risk of severe immigration consequences like deportation if USCIS officials find you working without a valid work permit. Therefore, it would be wise to apply for your EAD/work permit renewal with USCIS about three to six months before the original card expiry date because renewing a work permit usually takes about a hundred fifty days to process.

Even if you apply for a new immigration status like Marriage Green Card, you must renew your current work permit timely even if you think USCIS will approve your new status application. All you need to do is to file Form I-765 again and attach all the necessary documents to prove that you are still eligible for an EAD/work permit, including the renewal fee, which is $410, the same as the application fee.

For any queries or issues regarding the application or renewal of an EAD/work permit or any other aspect of your immigration status, you should find a reliable immigration attorney for necessary legal counsel. Immigration attorneys do this work every day with different immigrants and can help you obtain a U.S work permit without a hassle and timely.

In some cases, USCIS can reject your EAD/work permit application if your application has mistakes or erroneous information that makes you ineligible. Typically, USCIS can reject your EAD application because of the following reasons:

  • You have received other work permit authorization like a green card before approval of your work permit application
  • Your immigration status does not allow you to work here
  • There was a mistake or erroneous information on the Form I-765 application

Whichever the reason USCIS gives for rejecting your EAD/work permit application, it is wise to speak to an immigration attorney for further advice on reapplication so that you can begin working as soon as possible. USCIS allows you to reapply for a work permit again if you mistakenly provided erroneous information. You can file a motion with USCIS to reconsider your work permit application, but you should do so with your immigration attorney, who understands these processes well.

Find an Immigration Attorney Near Me

If USCIS denies your work permit application unfairly or if you want to file a new U.S work permit to begin working in California, we invite you to contact California Immigration Attorney at 424-789-8809 for legal counsel. Filing Form I-765 for work authorization is stressful, but we can make this process less stressful for you as you focus on other requirements for your job application.