How Long Does It Take to Get a Work Permit?

As an immigrant living in the United States, one of your top priorities is figuring out how to support yourself and your family financially. If you’re in America on a worker visa, you’ve already got that covered. However, if you don’t have a work visa or a work permit, U.S. employers will not legally be allowed to hire you.

So how can you make a living while waiting for your Green Card application or DACA request to process? With a work permit obtained by filing Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization.  

It can take up to 18 months from the time you file Form I-765 to when you receive your work permit. Though when you submit your application with FileRight, we help you sidestep costly errors, avoid delays, and keep your processing time to a minimum.

Person wearing black shirt working on a laptop, with an hourglass in the foreground.
The time you spend waiting to get a work permit can seem to drag on, but you must bide your time and only work when permitted.

Factors that Influence Work Permit Processing Times

Your request for a work permit, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD), will be processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS is a government agency that operates under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The time the USCIS can process your application will depend on several factors:

  • Current USCIS caseload — New applications are processed in the order that they are submitted. If there are many other cases in line ahead of yours, it will take longer for you to get an answer.
  • Location — Some field offices have longer waiting times than others. Although there are numerous locations throughout the United States, you don’t have the discretion to file at just any field office. Therefore, if your site is behind in processing, you will have a longer wait.
  • Other paperwork filed concurrently — When you file Form I-765 simultaneously with other applications, you may unwittingly delay processing. For example, if you apply for DACA protections, you must file your work permit application at the same time as your request for deferred action. Processing on Form I-765 cannot begin until a decision is made on your DACA request.
  • Whether you’ve had a work permit before — Work permit renewals often process faster than first-time applications. This is because they are not tied to other applications. Additionally, renewals don’t typically require as much supplementary documentation or USCIS field office appointments to demonstrate your eligibility. 
  • The completeness and accuracy of your application — If there are any errors on your Form I-765 or if you neglect to include a vital piece of evidence, your application could be delayed. The USCIS could ask for the missing supporting documentation, or they might simply deny your request. If that happens, you’ll need to start over at the end of the line. 

If you move while your request is being processed, be sure to update your address with the USCIS. If your paperwork is mailed to the wrong address, you might experience additional delays in receiving your EAD card.

Can I Work While Waiting for My EAD?

A two- to 18-month time range can seem like a long time to wait for your work permit, especially if you already have a job lined up or want to contribute to your family’s finances. Yet, it’s imperative you don’t secure paid employment until you have received official U.S. government permission to work.

The USCIS will strictly enforce this rule. If they discover that you’ve been working before receiving your EAD, the government could throw out your pending applications. In other words, unauthorized employment may cause you to lose potential DACA protections or miss your chance to acquire a Green Card.

Inquiring About Your Case Status

Once you’ve submitted your request, the USCIS will send you a Form I-797C, Notice of Action. This receipt notice serves to let you know that they have your application, and it is in the queue for review. 

Information on your I-797C will include:

  • Case type — The type of application and the name of the form that you filed.
  • Receipt number — You can use this number to inquire about your case status directly with the USCIS.
  • Received date — The date USCIS received your application. 

The USCIS also posts a regularly updated “receipt date for a case inquiry” on their website. As soon as their assigned date matches or surpasses the “received date” listed on your I-797C, you’re allowed to submit an official inquiry to find out about your case status. 

Avoid Delays with FileRight

FileRight will help you cut through work permit confusion. When you purchase an EAD card application package with us, you’ll benefit from faster processing speeds thanks to:

  • Robust software that establishes work permit eligibility and catches form errors you might have missed. You can rest easy knowing USCIS won’t kick back your application due to typographical errors or missing documentation.
  • Immigration attorney review to double-check petition accuracy and legality before assembling your documents.
  • Packet assembly services that organize, prepare, and mail your printed work permit application directly to you for your signatures. We take the guesswork out of the entire process!
  • Friendly customer service agents who are available to answer your questions at any point in the process.

Start Your Work Permit Application Today

At FileRight, we’ve made it our mission to ensure your work permit application is accepted and approved by the USCIS as quickly as possible. We know you’ll love our services which is why we guarantee if your I-765 application is denied, we’ll issue a full refund of our costs and the government filing fees.

There is no risk to you, so take our no-obligation I-765 qualification quiz now to get started.

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