An Employment Authorization Document is given to those immigrants who are legally eligible to work in the United States while in the country.

Some of those immigrants are granted the permission to work upon entry but still need the Employment Authorization Document to prove it.

The Employment Authorization Document is also simply known as an EAD but can also be referred to as a work permit or employment authorization.

Here are some common questions associated with the EAD.

What’s the difference between a green card and an EAD?

There are several differences between a green card and an EAD. A green card, or legal permanent resident card, prove that you are legally allowed to live and work in the United States.

Green cards can also be used to reenter the United States after traveling internationally.

An EAD only proves you are eligible to work within the United States. It cannot be used to reenter the United States after traveling abroad.

Most green cards are also valid for ten years where an EAD is only valid for the time period of your legal stay within the United States.

If your green card expires you will not lose your status in the country as a legal permanent resident. If your EAD expires it typically means you are no longer legally allowed to work in the United States.

If you have a green card there’s no need to apply for an EAD because permanent residency comes with the benefit of being able to legally work in the United States.

How long can you have an EAD?

EADs have an expiration date. They will typically be valid for one year or two depending on how long you are legally authorized to stay in the United States or if you are applying for another immigrant benefit.

According to the USCIS, if your EAD is expiring and you are still eligible for an EAD you can apply to extend your work permit.

Do you need a sponsor for an EAD?

In terms of immigration a sponsor typically means someone who will be financially responsible for an immigrant if they get in financial trouble. In the case of EAD’s, people often wonder if they need an employer to sponsor them.

Employer sponsorships are not required as part of the process to obtain an EAD.

How to get an EAD?

In order to get an EAD, you must first find out if you qualify. There are several categories under which an immigrant can qualify for a work permit.

Those categories include:

  • Asylee/Refugee and their Spouses and Children.
  • Nationality Categories
  • Foreign Students
  • Eligible Dependents of Employees of Diplomatic Missions, International Organizations, or NATO
  • Employment-Based Nonimmigrants
  • Adjustment-of-status Categories

FileRight makes it easier for you to find out if you’re eligible for an EAD by offering a free eligibility quiz. That quiz will determine if you meet the basic eligibility requirements to complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

After you send in your application for an EAD to the USCIS, the time it takes for them to process the application can vary tremendously. There is no set timetable as to when your application will be processed. The time it takes depends on where you mailed your application and how much of a backlog the USCIS is currently experiencing in your area.

Most processing offices will try to complete your application within 5 months but some can take more than a year.

Can an EAD be renewed?

If your EAD is expiring and you are still eligible to have one through one of the available categories, you can renew the work permit. According to the USCIS, you should not apply to renew your EAD more than 180 days before your original expires.