Employment Authorization Card: Quick Facts

The ability to work legally in the United States is a great benefit to immigrants legally in the country. To do that, certain immigrants who find themselves eligible have to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). It’s sometimes referred to as a work permit. To apply for an EAD, applicants must submit form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Who can get an employment authorization card?


Those seeking to apply for an EAD must meet the requirements to apply under one of many categories. We’ll cover some of the categories here, but there are several.


 Refugee/Asylee: Immigrants who have been approved to enter the United States as a refugee or asylee can apply for an EAD.


  • Foreign students: Those who are studying within the United States can apply for work permits under certain circumstances. Some of the visa categories that allow for employment include F-1, J-2, and M-1.
  • Employment-Based Nonimmigrants: These immigrants are those who are temporarily working in the United States and not expected to live here permanently. Spouses of some of these immigrants may also be eligible to apply for a work permit.
  • Family-Based Nonimmigrants: This category includes those coming to the United States on a K-1 Fiance visa. Some of the other visas included in this category are K-3, V-1, V-2, and V-3.
  • Adjustment-of-Status Categories: If an immigrant has applied for Adjustment of Status, they can apply for a work permit while they wait for a decision on their green card. Those applicants must file Form I-765 with Form I-485.
  • DACA: The eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals can also apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765 and Form I-821D if they meet the requirements to do so.

You can find a full list of EAD categories on the USCIS’s website.


How long is an employment authorization card valid?


This is a difficult question to answer because the validity of a work permit can vary. It truly depends on your status in the United States and how long your legal stay is valid. The work permit is usually valid for the same period you are allowed to legally be in the United States.


 Under certain circumstances, a work permit does have a set validity period. If you are applying for a work permit while your Adjustment of Status application is being processed, your work permit will likely be valid for one year.


 Those who are eligible for DACA will obtain a work permit that is valid for two years.


 Work permits can be renewed if applicants are found eligible. The USCIS states they can be renewed when your current card is 120 days from expiring. The USCIS states an EAD should be renewed 90 days before your current card expires.


What to do if your employment authorization card expires?


According to the USCIS, in most instances, if your work permit has expired, you cannot legally work in the United States. You can and should apply to renew your EAD if you are eligible to do so, but in most cases, you are not allowed to legally work in the country while your application is pending.


 If you have questions about your EAD expiring it may be beneficial to speak to an immigration attorney about your situation.


How to apply for renewal of an Employment Authorization Card


The USCIS states you should apply to renew your work permit somewhere within 120 and 90 days of your current card expiring.


 To find out if you’re eligible to renew your work permit you can use FileRight’s free eligibility quiz.


 Renewals are only accepted if you are applying to renew within the same category as your current work permit.


 In order to renew a work authorization, you will need to complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.


How to check the status of my employment authorization application


After you have completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, you will receive a receipt number from the USCIS. This document will let you know the USCIS has received your application and has accepted it for processing.


 The first three characters of the receipt number will be letters. Those letters will be followed by a series of numbers. Here’s an example: MSC-012-345-6789.


 Once you have the receipt number you will need to visit the USCIS’ website case status page. Once there, you will enter your receipt number into the space provided and the status of your application will appear.


 Processing times for Form I-765 can vary significantly.



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