Who can Qualify for a Work Permit in the United States?
Learn more about the work permit categories of foreign-born people eligible to receive permission to work in the United States.
Foreign nationals staying the United States are unable to work without acquiring explicit permission under the terms of a visa or have applied for – and received – a work permit separately.
A work permit is a photo identity card that is issued by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is also known by the name Employment Authorization Document or EAD. This EAD looks like a driver’s license. People holding one are able to show it to employers to prove that they have the right to work in the country. Every U.S employer must, when hiring new employees, request proof of their immigration status and right to work, or face sanctions.
Who Doesn’t Have to Apply Separately for a Work Permit?
Everyone with a green card has the right to work. They just have to show said green card to employers. Immigrants that become U.S citizens are also able to work and will have the U.S passport or naturalization papers to prove it to employers.
Foreign nationals that obtain work-based visas, which have been sponsored by a U.S employer, are able to work within the United States. For example, these visas may include an H-1B visa (for specialty workers), an L-1 visa (for intracompany transferees), an E-3 visa (for Australians only), or an E treaty trader or treaty investor visa (for employees working with registered as treaty traders and treaty investors in the United States).
Who is Eligible to Apply for Work Permits?
There are several classes of people who can – and must, should they want to be employed – apply for special “work permits” through U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They have to submit the application before starting work. These categories include things such as K-1 fiancé visa holders, people applying for an adjustment of status (green card), asylees, spouses of visa holders, people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), F-1 students undergoing economic problems or seeking optional practical training (OPT). Basically, there are too many categories to go into here; you can find a full list on the USCIS Form I-765 (the application form for a work permit). Please note that there isn’t a category for tourists (B-1 visa holders) and undocumented immigrations. USCIS doesn’t grant those people permission to work within the United States, and it is illegal for them to work (and for employers to hire them).
How to Apply for a Work Permit
To apply for an EAD work permit, you have to fill out the USCIS Form I-765, attach the proper documentation to prove you belong to a category of people able to get a work permit, attach photos, and include the appropriate fee. Be sure to read through the instructions carefully as not every applicant has to pay a fee. You will have to submit your application through the mail, and it could take a few weeks to get a response. Read more on How to Apply for a US Work Permit
Getting Legal Help
If you have questions about whether you are eligible or a work permit, or you need help filling in the application, then consult an immigration attorney.
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