How to Apply for a US Work Permit

How to Apply for a US Work Permit

A US work permit is a crucial document that demonstrates your eligibility to work in the United States.


As a noncitizen seeking employment opportunities in the United States, it is essential to understand the process of obtaining a US work permit, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 

This document serves as official proof that you are eligible to work in the US and is a requirement before you can begin working. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the application process, eligibility criteria, and important considerations to help you successfully obtain a work permit.



Working without a permit in the United States can have serious consequences. If you do so, working without authorization can result in deportation, a bar from entering the country for 3-10 years, and difficulty obtaining temporary or permanent status in the future. So, do yourself a favor, obey the law and contact an Immigration Attorney.

Understanding the US Work Permit (EAD)

A work permit, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD), is a crucial document that demonstrates your eligibility to work in the United States. It is available to specific groups of noncitizens who are either in the process of applying for a green card or possess temporary rights to reside in the country. 

Common categories of individuals eligible for a work permit include K-1 fiancé visa holders, asylees, spouses of visa holders, individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), F-1 students experiencing economic hardship or seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT), and more.

It’s important to note that a work permit is distinct from a work-based visa, such as an H-1B visa, which involves a more complex application process. Additionally, a work permit does not grant permanent residence status in the US, as it is a temporary authorization to work.

Eligibility for a US Work Permit

To determine your eligibility for a US work permit, you need to assess your immigration status and the corresponding category that allows you to apply for an EAD. The eligibility categories can vary based on the individual’s circumstances and immigration status. 

For instance, individuals who have applied for or are in the process of applying for a green card (adjustment of status) may be eligible for a work permit. Others may be eligible based on their visa category, such as asylees, individuals with TPS or DED, F-1 students, or certain family members of visa holders.

It is crucial to consult the official USCIS website or seek legal advice to determine your specific eligibility for a work permit based on your immigration status.

The Application Process for a US Work Permit

Obtaining a US work permit requires submitting the Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form serves as your official application for employment authorization. Let’s explore the steps involved in preparing and submitting your work permit application:

Step 1: Gather the Required Documents

Before completing Form I-765, ensure you have the necessary supporting documents to prove your eligibility for a work permit. The specific documents you need will depend on your immigration category. Some common documents include a copy of your passport photo page, a copy of your current US visa (if applicable), a copy of your Form I-94 (travel record), copies of any previous work permits, passport-style photos, and additional documents specific to your eligibility category.

Step 2: Complete Form I-765

Form I-765 is the official application for employment authorization. It collects essential information about your identity, contact details, immigration status, and eligibility category. When completing the form, pay close attention to Question 22, which requests details about your most recent entry into the US, and Question 27, which requires selecting the appropriate eligibility category code based on the instructions provided.

Step 3: Pay the Filing Fee

To process your work permit application, you must pay the required filing fee. As of late 2023, the fee for Form I-765 is $410. However, USCIS fee amounts are subject to change, so it is essential to verify the current fee on the USCIS website or ask your attorney. Additionally, some applicants may be eligible for fee waivers, while others, such as those filing for deferred action or Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) long-term resident status, may require an additional biometrics fee.

Step 4: Prepare the Application Package

Compile all the necessary documents, completed Form I-765, and the filing fee into a comprehensive application package. Make sure to make copies of all documents, including the checks, before submitting them. Follow the USCIS instructions to determine the appropriate mailing address or explore online filing options if available for your eligibility category.

Step 5: Track Your Application and Await USCIS Decision

After submitting your work permit application, it is essential to track its progress and await a decision from USCIS. You can monitor the status of your application online or contact USCIS for updates. The processing time for work permits can vary, but it typically takes several months. If approved, USCIS will either mail your EAD, and in some cases, you may need to visit a USCIS office to pick it up in person.

“It is crucial to consult the official USCIS website or seek legal advice to determine your specific eligibility for a work permit based on your immigration status.”
The Application Process for a US Work Permit
The Application Process for a US Work Permit

Renewing and Replacing a Work Permit

Once you have obtained a work permit, it is crucial to remain aware of its expiration date. Work permits are typically valid for one or two years, depending on your immigration status. To continue working legally in the US, you must renew your work permit before it expires. The process for renewing a work permit involves submitting a new Form I-765, along with the necessary supporting documents and filing fee. It is recommended to initiate the renewal process well in advance to ensure uninterrupted employment authorization.

In situations where a work permit is lost, stolen, or damaged, it is possible to apply for a replacement. The process requires filing a new Form I-765 and providing the appropriate documentation to support your request. It is important to act promptly in these circumstances to maintain valid employment authorization.

Consequences of Working Without a Work Permit

Working in the United States without a valid work permit is highly risky and can have severe consequences. Engaging in unauthorized employment can lead to deportation, a ban on reentry to the US for several years, and future challenges in obtaining temporary or permanent immigration status. It is crucial to adhere to the legal requirements and obtain the necessary work permit before accepting employment in the US.

Last things to consider.

Obtaining a work permit in the USA is an essential step for noncitizens seeking employment opportunities in the United States. By understanding the eligibility criteria, completing the necessary application forms accurately, and providing the required supporting documents, you can navigate the process successfully. 

Remember to stay informed about the expiration date of your work permit and initiate the renewal process in a timely manner. We strongly advise you to work with a licensed immigration attorney like N400 Harbor Immigration Law that can provide valuable guidance throughout the process, ensuring compliance with immigration laws and maximizing your chances of obtaining employment authorization in the United States.

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