If you are not a United States citizen or a Green Card holder, you will need a work permit, officially known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), to prove your eligibility to work in the U.S. legally. As a rule, U.S. employers must confirm that all of their employees are legally able to work in the country. An Employment Authorization Document will grant you that ability as an alien.
You do not need to apply for a work permit if you are a Green Card holder (lawful permanent resident in the U.S.). Your Permanent Resident Card is evidence enough of your employment authorization in this country. You also do not need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document if you have a temporary work visa that authorizes you to work for a specific employer.
Who Needs a Work Permit?
You will need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document in a few circumstances. The first reason is if you are authorized to work in the U.S. because of your immigration status and need evidence of that employment authorization. The second reason is if you are required to apply for permission to work (i.e. you need to request employment authorization itself). This can occur in the following instances:
- You have a pending Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
- You have a pending Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal).
- You currently have a nonimmigrant status that allows you to into the U.S. but does not allow you to work in the country without permission from USCIS.
How to Request a Work Permit
To request a work permit, you need to file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The correct filing fee for the Form I-765 is, as of August 2017, $410.
Work Permit Renewals
If your Employment Authorization Document is or will be expired and you are still eligible, you can file for a renewal EAD by submitting a new Form I-765 (as well as the required filing fee, if applicable). Sometimes, you may be granted a fee waiver if requested and approved. It is recommended that you do not file for a work permit renewal more than 180 days after your original work permit expired.
Can I Get a Replacement for a Work Permit?
There are two reasons that USCIS will send you a replacement EAD:
- Your work permit was lost, stolen or destroyed.
- Your work permit contains incorrect information.
If your Employment Authorization Document was lost, stolen or destroyed, you may request a replacement by filing a new Form I-765 and submitting the applicable filing fee. If you never received a work permit that USCIS mailed, you can submit an inquiry on non-delivery of a card.
If your EAD contains incorrect information that is not due to a USCIS error, you must submit a new Form I-765 with the filing fee along with any documents specified in the form instructions and the EAD card that has the error. If your EAD contains incorrect information due to USCIS’s mistake, they will make the appropriate correction at no additional cost to you. You also do not need to submit a new Form I-765 or a filing fee. Instead, you must send the original card containing the error along with a detailed explanation of the card error and supporting evidence that showcases on the correct information to the service center or National Benefit Center that approved your Form I-765 in question.