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Getting authorized to work in the United States starts by filing Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization, and requesting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Only having a visa is not a guarantee that you’re authorized to work in the US.
Unless you have an employment-based visa, you shouldn’t perform or accept any kind of paid job while waiting for your EAD to arrive. Fortunately, getting this work permit in the US is an easy process. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about Form I-765 and how to acquire one.
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Form I-765 Explained
Form I-765 is a formal request for a work permit, your Employment Authorization Document. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will issue your EAD once your application is approved. You can use this work permit as proof that you’re authorized to work in the US. Showing your EAD to your potential employer assures them they won’t face complications with immigration authorities.
If you’re qualified for a non-employment-based visa or green card, you are also eligible for an EAD. You can also apply for an EAD if any of the following apply:
- Foreign student
- Hold asylum or refugee
- Has a family-based visa
- Applying for adjustment of immigrant status
- Has an employment-based nonimmigrant visa
- On a diplomatic mission for international organizations
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Along with Form I-765, to complete your application, you’ll submit the following documents:
- Two recently taken 2-inch by 2-inch passport-style photos. Write your Alien Registration Number and full name (in print) on the back of the photos with a felt-tip pen or pencil.
- Copy of passport photo page
- Printout or copy of I-94 travel record issued by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Copy of all previous work permits, if any
- Copy of US visa
If your spouse is a green card holder, you need to provide a copy of Form I-485 receipt notice from the USCIS. First-time applicants will also need to provide a copy of one of the following required documents:
- National identity document that includes your fingerprint and photo
- Copy of a visa issued by the embassy of another country
- Photo ID and birth certificate
How to File
The I-765 application process is relatively easy. Fill out the form, attach your supporting documents, and mail your application package to the USCIS. If you’re a student, your school’s international office will help you apply for your EAD.
You can also submit your Form I-765 together with your Form I-485 (the marriage-based green card application). The only requirements for this process are two passport-sized photos and your completed Form I-765. There’s no application fee for filing Form I-765 if it’s included in the same application package as your green card application.
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When you submit Form I-765, you’ll pay $410. A biometric services fee may also apply if you’re seeking consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligibility or you’re the spouse or child of someone whose application for employment-based immigration has been approved and are facing “compelling circumstances.”
You’re exempted from the filing fee if you:
- Have previously filed Form I-485.
- File your Form I-765 together with your green card application.
- Provide a copy of Form I-797c Notice of Action with your I-765 application.
What Is Form I-765 Processing Time?
Getting a work permit is faster and easier than applying for a green card or visa. The process usually takes about six months, but processing times differ based on the service provider. You may also get a Request for Evidence (RFE), which requires you to provide additional supporting documents for your EAD request. Once you submit the necessary documents, you can expect to receive your EAD within 60 to 90 days.
The validity period of an EAD will depend on your situation, as the USCIS generally issues work permits based on the validity of a person’s nonimmigrant status. Work permits are usually valid for one year. Immigrants also have the option to renew their EAD before its expiration. Read on for more information about renewal.
The USCIS may also issue work permits that are valid for two years. A two-year work permit is issued to green card applicants who cannot change their status because they don’t have an immigrant visa number. Asylum applicants are also eligible for EADs with a two-year validity period. If you want to apply for a two-year work permit, you’ll need to submit your approved I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
Reasons for EAD Denial
The USCIS may not approve your EAD request due to the following reasons:
- Inaccurate, missing, or incomplete information in your I-765 submission.
- Your green card application was approved faster than your EAD application.
If you filled out your application form incorrectly or failed to include a required document, like a copy of your USCIS receipt notice, the USCIS will most likely reject your EAD request. But, if you already have a green card, there won’t be any problem because you don’t need to get a separate work permit to work in the US legally.
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You can renew your work permit four months before your current one expires. During this period. The process is the same as requesting your initial EAD. You need to submit Form I-765 again, together with the following documents:
- Copy of current work permit
- Two passport-style photos
- Copy of Form I-94, your Arrival/Departure Record, or any available travel document
- Copy of government-issued identification
- For those with a pending Adjustment of Status (AOS) petition, a copy of receipt notice of Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- If a lawyer or accredited representative is representing you, a copy of Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative.
The renewal process usually takes 150 days. You can pay the filing fee of $410 through a debit card, credit card, or bank transfer. Even if you’re confident that your green card application will be approved before your EAD expires, you should still renew your work permit. Otherwise, you won’t be allowed to work in the US for a period. It is a serious labor and immigration offense to work in the country without a work permit.
What If the USCIS Denies Your EAD Renewal Application?
If your EAD renewal application is denied, you’ll receive notice from the USCIS specifying the reason for the denial. You can submit a motion to reconsider the decision or reopen your case.
If you’d like to submit a motion to reconsider, you will need to show the denial was due to incorrect law implementation on the part of the assessing officer.
However, if you want to reopen your case, you have to provide documented proof with new facts to prove that your application should be reopened.
Regardless of your choice, you will have to submit enough supporting evidence. You can also work with an immigration attorney to make the process easier.
Applying for a work permit is a must for immigrants who don’t have an employment-based visa. If you work without an EAD, you will be banned from entering the US for 3 to 10 years. You need to have an EAD even for informal or short-term employment. Fortunately, applying for an EAD doesn’t take a lot of time. You can also file your EAD application together with your green card application. When you have an EAD, you can continue or start your career in the US while waiting for the approval of your green card application.