How to Apply for a US Work Permit – EAD
The process for applying for a US work permit – also called an employment authorization document or EAD – is simple and straightforward. All you have to do is fill out the one-page form, attach the processing fee, documents, and photos that prove your eligibility, and submit everything to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Of course there’s a catch though; in this case it’s making sure that you are actually eligible. Work permits are only available to limited groups of foreign immigrants, typically those who are applying for adjustment of status (a green card) or who already have a temporary right to stay in the United States. For more info pelase also see, Who can Qualify for a Work Permit in the United States?
Don’t get confuse by applying for a work permit and applying for a work visa – such as the H-1B visa. Applying for a work visa is a much more complicated process.
Filling Out the I-765 Form
The form used to apply for a work permit is the Form I-765, which can be obtained for free through download on the USCIS website.
Much of the form is self-explanatory. You just fill in your name, contact information, and other details. For question 12, you will be asked for your most recent entry to the U.S, even if you’d been staying in the country for a while and were just off on a short trip overseas. The “manner of entry” refers to the visa that you entered the country on.
Question 16 is likely going to take the most effort. You have to look at the instructions for the form, which can be found on the USCIS website, to understand the eligibility category you belong to. The most common categories are category (a)(5) for those granted asylum, (a)(12) for those who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS); (c)(3)(C) for students doing post-completion optional practical training, (c)(5) for J-2 spouses of J-1 exchange visitors, and (c)(9) for those applying for an adjustment of status (green card).
If the category has two letters or numbers – like (c)(9) – then don’t worry about the three spaces on the form. Just enter the letter into the second set of parentheses and the number in the third.
- How to Attach Proof of Eligibility to a US Work Permit
In order to prove your eligibility for a work permit, you will have to create a photocopy of whatever proves the status you described for question 16. If you applied as an asylee for example, then attach the letter from the asylum office or the judge’s order that grants you asylum. The instructions for what documents you will need can be found on the form itself.
Please note that if you are applying for a work permit alongside a green card or some other form of status, then you don’t need to include the proof of eligibility. USCIS are able to determine your eligibility from other applications you have submitted.
- Attaching the Right Fee
The fee for a work permit is $410 as of 2018, but the fees for the USCIS can increase regularly. Be sure to double check what the current fee amount is. If you are requesting deferred action, you will have to pay an extra $85 biometrics fee. Also keep in mind some categories of applicants will have the fee waived, such as those applying for a green card, as the fees for a us work permit are covered by the fees for a green card. Once again, check through the instructions on Form I-765
You can pay the fee through check or money order when mailing the application. If sending the application online, then you can pay through debit/credit card or by sending money through an online checking or savings account with a U.S bank.
- Submitting the EAD Application
There are two ways in which you can submit the form to USCIS; either through regular mail or by e-filing online with a computer. E-filing offers convenient payment options and is also convenient as you can fill out and submit the entire form online. Keep in mind that you will still have to mail in the supporting documents though.
If you are submitting everything through mail, then double check the address being used as it is based on the category of eligibility and can vary between people using U.S mail and people using other courier services. Make sure to create copy of the entire packet, including the checks, before submitting them.
Please also remeber you can still apply for a Green Card via the Green Card Program while wating for your US work permit.