Work Authorization for Foreign Nationals Without Green Cards
Every year, a number of people wish to work in the United States in a variety of different fields. In order to be able to work in the U.S., however, individuals from other countries need to seek employment authorization. Put another way, foreign nationals need to obtain permission from the federal government to legally participate in the American economy.
Work authorization refers to a card that authorizes someone who is not a citizen or a green card holder to lawfully hold a job in the United States. This is also known as a work permit or an employment authorization document (EAD). The EAD essentially demonstrates to anyone concerned that an individual is allowed to work in the United States. A work permit is typically given to an individual while some other work visa application is being processed.
Some typical categories of people who require employment authorization include asylees and asylum seekers, students seeking certain types of employment, applicants who are seeking to adjust to legal permanent resident (LPR) status, individuals seeking temporary protected status, fiancés of U.S. citizens, and more. To state the obvious, American citizens do not need employment authorization. Similarly, if an individual has a green card, he or she does not need employment authorization. Instead, the green card on its own is sufficient proof that the individual is legally allowed to work in the United States.
Who Does Not Need an EAD?
Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and foreign nationals with non-immigrant visas that authorize them to work for specific employers do not need to apply for an EAD.
The process involves an individual filing an application using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). Filling out the form is relatively straightforward because it mostly includes simple personal identifying information, such as your name, contact information, and mailing address. You also may be able to use this form to apply for a Social Security Number, rather than applying for it separately at a Social Security office.
The application can be filed online, or it can be mailed to a particular office. It is important to remember that, even if a person files his or her application online, he or she must still send in any supporting documents through the mail. There is also a filing fee that must be sent with the application. In some filing types, the fees may be exempt. This information can be found on the form instructions.
Part of the work authorization application requires proving that an individual is eligible to work in the United States. This part can be tricky because a work permit is only available to certain groups of immigrants. For example, individuals who are in the process of applying for a green card or who have the temporary right to be in the U.S. may seek work authorization. Since each individual case will vary, it is best to seek the guidance of a qualified immigration lawyer who can assess your eligibility for a work permit.
USCIS recommends filing an EAD renewal application about 180 days before expiration.
If you have obtained a work permit and wish to renew it, you should apply for a renewal EAD six months prior to when your current EAD is set to expire. If your EAD gets lost or stolen, you must obtain a replacement EAD. A replacement EAD is also required if the original EAD has incorrect information, such as a misspelled name.