An Employment Authorization Document (Work Permit) allows a person to lawfully work in the U.S. and earn a living, even before they are granted permanent resident status (green card). The work permit, known more officially as an Employment Authorization Document, has many characteristics that are important to understand.
Form I-765 – and Who Needs It
An application for a work permit is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service on Form I-765. This is not a work permit sent to a prospective employer, but rather to the United States government itself. The applicant is asking for permission to work in the United States. With a work permit, you are free to work for any employer.
Who Is Eligible for a Work Permit?
The ability to be lawfully employed in the U.S. is obviously very important. After all, nearly everybody needs to work to support themselves. But not everybody is eligible to be granted work authorization. The following is just some of the many people residing in the U.S. who are eligible to apply for work authorization:
• Asylum Applicants: For people residing in the U.S. who are fearful of returning to their native country, an application for asylum may be a way of obtaining permanent resident status. However, while your application is pending, you may also be eligible to obtain work authorization.
• Adjustment of Status Applicants: You are also eligible to apply for work authorization while your application for adjustment of status is pending. Being granted permanent resident status is clearly more valuable than a work permit, but if the USCIS takes a long time to approve the application for adjustment of status, the ability to lawfully work in the U.S. makes the waiting a little easier.
• Cancellation of Removal Applicants: There are severe backlogs in Immigration Courts throughout the U.S. It may take years before an Immigration Judge makes a decision on a case. If you are an applicant for Cancellation of Removal, you are permitted to apply for work authorization while your case is pending.
• Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants: An H-4 nonimmigrant will be eligible for work authorization if their H-1B nonimmigrant spouse is either the principal beneficiary of an approved Form 140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, or if their H-1B nonimmigrant spouse has been granted H-1B status under pursuant to American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000.
The USCIS has begun automatically extending certain expiring work permits for up to 180 days. A person may be eligible for an automatic extension if they properly file for a renewal before their current work permit expires. Please note that everybody is not eligible for an automatic extension. The USCIS has limited automatic extensions to certain categories of applicants.
Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza – Full-Service Immigration Law Firm
For obvious reasons, the ability to work and earn a living wage is essential to many people. It is not necessary to be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to be lawfully employed in the U.S. Even undocumented immigrants may be able to obtain a work permit. Contact Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza today and ask if you are eligible.