How To Get a Work Permit

All individuals who seek employment in the US are required to first get a work permit allowing them to work in the US. This work permit is also referred to as Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Every employer in the US is bound by law to verify that all its employees, irrespective of citizenship or national origin, are permitted to work in the US. The EAD is issued by the US Citizenship&Immigration Services (USCIS) department. EADs are usually valid for a period of one year and you can apply for renewal of the EAD when there are 120 or lesser days left to the expiry date of the current EAD. Replacements will be issued if the original is stolen, lost or mutilated, or is printed with incorrect information or errors made by the issuing authorities. To find out how you can get a work permit and the required documentation and formalities, read through the guidelines listed below.

Step 1

Applicable laws. The issuance of work permits or EADs are governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Code of Federal Regulations. The former lays down the guidelines for the admission of people into the country, while the CFR provides the duties and responsibilities of both employers and employees with respect to EADs.

Step 2

Eligibility to apply for a work permit. The categories of persons who are required to hold a valid EAD to work in the US are listed below.

Asylum seekers and /or refugees:

  • Current asylees or those seeking asylum, their spouses and children
  • Refugees or seeking refugee status, their spouses and children

Foreign students:

  • F-1 student seeking optional practical training in an occupation directly related to studies
  • F-1 student offered off-campus employment under sponsorship of a qualifying international organization
  • F-1 students seeking off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship
  • J-2 spouse or minor child of an exchange visitor
  • M-1 student seeking practical training after completing studies

Eligible dependants of employees of diplomatic missions, international organizations, NATO:

  • Dependants of A-1 or A-2 foreign government officials
  • Dependants of G-1, G-3 or G-4 non-immigrants
  • Dependents of NATO-1 through to NATO-6

Nationality categories:

  • Citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau
  • Persons with:
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
  • Extended Voluntary Departure (EVD)
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Temporary Treatment Benefits (TTB)
  • Applicants eligible for NACARA relief
  • Dependants of TECRO E-1 Non-immigrants

Employment-based non-immigrants:

  • B-1 non-immigrant who is the personal or domestic servant of a non-immigrant employer
  • B-1 non-immigrant domestic servant of a US citizen
  • B-1 non-immigrant employed by a foreign airline
  • Spouse of an E-1/E-2 treaty trader or investor, spouse of an L-1 intra-company transferee

Family-based non-immigrants:

  • K-1 non-immigrant fiancé(e) of a US citizen or K-2 dependant
  • K-3 non-immigrant spouse of US citizen or K-4 dependant
  • Applicants for the family unity program or LIFE family unity program
  • V-1, V-2 and V-3 non-immigrants

Adjustment-of-status categories:

  • Adjustment applicants where application for permanent residence or adjust status is pending
  • Adjustment applicant based on continuous stay since January 1, 1972
  • Renewal EAD for national interest waiver physicians

Other categories:

  • Applicants with:
  • Granted withholding of deportation or removal,
  • Suspension of deportation,
  • Applicants paroled in public interest
  • Applicants for deferred action or final order of deportation,
  • T-1, T-2, T-3 or T-4 non-immigrants,
  • LIFE legalization applicants,
  • N-8 or N-9 non-immigrants

Step 3

Method of submitting applications. Applications for EAD or work permits must be filled in the I-765 form which can be filed manually or electronically. Electronic filing is available only for a select category of applicants, details of which can be found on the USCIS site. Under the manual process, the I-765 form should be completely and correctly filled, attached with the required documents and photographs and the filing fee of $340. The full docket should be mailed to the local USCIS Regional Service Center.

Step 4

Checking on applications status. Applicants can check on the processing status of their applications by calling the toll-free numbers of the National Customer Service Center or check the status online by visiting the relevant links on the USCIS website.

Step 5

Appeal in case of denial of work permit. In case the application for a work permit is denied, a letter will be sent by the USCIS, stating the reason for decline. You can only submit a motion to reopen or reconsider the case, provided you have new mitigating facts which make it necessary to reopen the case or review the previous decision. A motion to reconsider must clearly state that there was an incorrect application of the law or policy as stated. The denial or decline of a work permit can also be appealed to the Administrative Appeals Office which is the higher appellate authority over the USCIS. This must be filed within 30 days of receiving the first decision along with documents and information to support the new facts and the correct appeal fee.

Having read through the instructions above, you should be now relatively comfortable with applying for a work permit. Further information or clarifications are available with the I-765 form or you can call the toll-free number or check on the USCIS website.


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