U.S. Employment Authorization Document

Everything You Need To Know About Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Requirements And Eligibility


The Employment Authorization Card (“EAD”) and popularly known as the Work Permit is a document issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that evidences authorization for certain foreign nationals to work in the U.S.

Requirements To Apply For The EAD

A. Who May Apply For The Employment Authorization Card?

1. Employment Based Nonimmigrant Categories

a. The spouse of an E or L visa holder

b. The spouse and children of a J visa holder

c. Personal or domestic servants of employers who enter U.S. as non-immigrants under B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, R, and TN visa

d. B-1 nonimmigrant domestic servants of U.S. citizens

e. B-1 nonimmigrant employees of foreign airlines

2. Family-Based Nonimmigrant Categories

a. K-1 fiancé(e) of a U.S. Citizen and K-2 dependents

b. K-3 Nonimmigrant Spouse of a U.S. Citizen and K-4 Dependents

c. Foreign nationals granted status under the Family Unity Program

d. Foreign nationals in V nonimmigrant status

e. Foreign nationals who are granted Family Unity benefits under section 1504 of the Legal Immigrant Family Equity (LIFE) Act Amendments

3. Adjustment of Status Applicants

a. Foreign nationals who have filed an application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (Green Card)

b. Adjustment Applicant Based on Continuous Residence Since January 1, 1972

4. Foreign Students

a. F-1 students seeking optional practical training in an occupation directly related to their area of study

b. F-1 students offered off-campus employment under the sponsorship of a qualifying international organization

c. F-1 students seeking off-campus employment because of severe economic hardship

d. M-1 students seeking employment for practical training following completion of studies

5. Nationality

a. Foreign nationals eligible under temporary protected status

b. Citizens of Micronesia or the Marshall Islands or Palau admitted to the U.S. as a citizen of Micronesia or of the Marshall Islands or Palau

c. Deportable foreign nationals, granted voluntary departure, with evidence establishing economic necessity to work

d. Dependents of an E-1 nonimmigrant admitted as an employee of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO)

e. NACRA Section 203 Applicants who are eligible to apply for NACRA relief

6. Asylees And Refugees

a. Foreign nationals who have been granted asylum in the U.S.

b. Foreign nationals who have filed a complete application for asylum or withholding of deportation or removal

c. Foreign nationals in refugee status

d. Foreign nationals paroled as refugees

7. Dependents of Employee of Diplomatic Missions, International Organizations, or NATO

a. The spouse and children of foreign government diplomats, officials, and NATO personnel

b. Dependents of A-1 or A-2 Foreign Govt. Officials

c. Dependents of G-1, G-3 or G-4 nonimmigrant

8. Others

a. Foreign nationals who have applied for suspension of deportation

b. Foreign nationals who were paroled into the U.S. for emergent reasons or reasons strictly in the public interest

c. Foreign nationals admitted as a parent (N-8) or dependent child (N-9) of a “special immigrant”

d. T-1 Nonimmigrant

e. Foreign nationals in T-2, T-3, T-4 nonimmigrant status

f. Foreign nationals who have been granted deferred action, an act of administrative convenience to the government, which gives some cases lower priority, if the alien establishes an economic necessity for employment

g. Foreign nationals against whom a final order of deportation or removal exists and who is released on an order of supervision

h. Foreign nationals who have filed an application for adjustment of status pursuant to Section 1104 of the LIFE Act

B. Ineligibility To Apply For EAD

Foreign nationals who are inside the U.S. in the following statuses are not eligible to apply for EAD:

  1. Dependents of H, O, F, M, O, P, Q, and R visa holders
  2. L-2 children of L-1 visa holders

C. Which Individuals Do Not Require An EAD To Work In The U.S.?

U.S citizens, legal permanent residents (Green Card holders) and conditional permanent residents do not need to obtain the Employment Authorization Card to accept employment in the United States.

Other foreign nationals who are authorized to work for specific employers based on their immigration status alone include (but are not limited to):

1. Temporary workers or trainees (H-1, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3) employed only by the petitioner through whom the status was obtained.

2. Exchange visitors (J-1) employed only by the exchange visitor program sponsor or appropriate designee and within the guidelines of the program approved by the United States Information Agency or the U.S. Department of State as set forth in the Certificate of Eligibility (Form DS-2019) issued by the program sponsor

3. Intra-company transferees (L-1) employed only by the petitioner through whom the status was obtained.

4. Nonimmigrant (F-1) students are is in valid nonimmigrant student status and are seeking:

a. On-campus employment for not more than twenty hours per week when school is in session or full-time employment when school is not in session if the student intends and is eligible to register for the next term or session. Part-time on-campus employment is authorized by the school and no specific endorsement by a school official or an immigration officer is necessary.

b. Part-time off-campus employment authorization based on an approved attestation from the employer and who presents Form I-20 endorsed by the Designated School Official. (OR)

c. Curricular practical training (internships, cooperative training programs, or work-study programs which are part of an established curriculum) after having been enrolled full-time in an approved institution for at least nine months. Curricular practical training (part-time or full time) is authorized by the Designated School Official on the student’s Form I-20. No USCIS endorsement is necessary.

5. Foreign nationals having extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1) and accompanying aliens (O-2) employed only by the petitioner through whom the status was obtained.

NOTE: O-2 status should not be confused with O-3 status applicable to the dependents of O-1 or O-2 aliens.

6. Nonimmigrant treaty traders (E-1) or treaty investors (E-2) employed only by the treaty-qualifying company through which the alien attained the status.

7. Foreign government officials (A-1 or A-2) employed only by the foreign government entity or employees of a foreign government official (A-3) employed only by the foreign government official.

8. Foreign government official in transit (C-2 or C-3) employed only by the foreign government entity.

9. Representative of an international organization (G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4) employed only by the foreign government entity or the international organization.

10. Information media representatives (I) employed by a sponsoring foreign news agency or bureau.

11. Athletes, artists, or entertainers (P-1, P-2, or P-3) employed only by the petitioner through whom the status was obtained.

12. International cultural exchange visitors (Q-1) employed by the petitioner through whom the status was obtained.

13. Religious workers (R-1) employed by the sponsoring religious organization.

EAD And US Work Visas Comparison

The advantages of the EAD are comparable with those accruing from the regular non-Immigrant work visas like H-1B, H-2B, L-1 etc. They can be compared on the basis of flexibility that one has over the other.

Features EAD US Work Visas
Application Process EAD can only be filed from within the U.S. and is filed by the applicant. The petition is filed by the employer and the employee can be in the U.S. (change of status or extension of status) or abroad (visa to be picked up at US Consulate).
Requires Job Offer? No. Applicants do not need to have a job offer in order to obtain an EAD. Yes. Applicants must have a job offer from the employer in the U.S. to obtain a work visa.
Prior Petition No employment offer is required and thus no prior petition is required to be filed by the employer. Employers have to file the petition with the USCIS (exceptions TN, H-1B1, E-1, E-2, E-3) to sponsor the foreign national for the specific US work visa.
Employer Specific? No Yes
Change Employers? Allows flexibility to change employer or work for multiple employers as the authorization is not employer specific. Here, the petition is employer specific and usually for a specific purpose. In order to change employer or work for more than one employer, additional petitions must be filed for each employer and/or position.
Salary/ Education Requirement The EAD does not have any minimum salary or education requirements. For most US work visas, there are minimum salary and/or education levels that must be complied with.

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