U.S. Employment Authorization Document (EAD Process)

Read About EAD Process Documents And Status

Applying For EAD Card

STEP 1: Submit Application To USCIS To Obtain The EAD

The Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization can be filed electronically (E-File) or by mail at a USCIS Regional Service Center or Lockbox depending on the eligibility criteria for the EAD.

A. Supporting Documents And Forms To Be Submitted Along With The EAD Application

The following is a list of supporting documents and forms that have to be submitted along with Form I-765.

1. USCIS Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

2. Two identical color photographs as per the following specifications:

a. Taken within 30 days of filing the application

b. Showing full face (passport style) with your head bare (unless you are wearing a headdress as required by a religious order of which you are a member)

c. Has a white background and be no larger than 2 X 2 inches, with the distance from the top of the head to just below the chin about 1 and 1/4 inches

d. Glossy, un-mounted, un-retouched and printed on thin paper

NOTE: Lightly print your A# (or your name if you have no A#) on the back of each photo, using a pencil.

3. Copy of current passport

4. Copy of the Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Document

5. Copies of documents which indicate current status

6. If the applicant was previously issued an EAD card, include a legible photocopy, front and back

7. If the applicant has a pending adjustment of status application, a copy of the receipt notice (unless the application is filing the I-765 concurrently with the adjustment of status application).

8. If the applicant is in F-1 or M-1 status, copies of all I-20s showing the international student adviser’s recommendation for practical training. Also include a copy of the Form I-538, endorsed by the international student advisor

9. If the applicant is in J-2 status, proof of marriage, copy of the J-1 spouse’s Form DS-2019, Form I-94 and a written statement that the applicant’s income is not needed to support the J-1 exchange visitor

10. If the applicant is an A, G or NATO dependent, include USCIS Form I-566, Interagency Record of individual Requesting Change/Adjustment to or from A or G Status

11. If the applicant is a spouse of an L-1 intra-company transferee, proof of marriage, copy of spouse’s I-94 showing valid L-1 status

12. If the applicant is the spouse of an E-1 treaty trader or E-2 investor, include evidence of the applicant’s lawful status (such as the Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Document) and evidence that the applicant is a spouse of the principal visa holder

13. If the applicant is a K-1 fiancée, file the application within 90 days from the date of entry. Include evidence of K-1 visa and a copy of the passport

B. Processing Times For The EAD Card

USCIS takes approximately 60 to 90 days to process the Employment Authorization Document.

NOTE: If USCIS fails to adjudicate the EAD application 75 days, you may submit a service request to USCIS through the National Customer Service number.

C. Validity of The EAD

The validity of EAD is generally 1 year, but may be longer depending on which category the application is filed in.

D. Renewal of The EAD

An EAD is generally issued for a period of one year. However in certain cases it can be issued for a period of two years. There is no grace period beyond the expiry date of the issued EAD Card. Therefore it is essential that one files for its renewal, ahead of its expiry date. Renewal cannot be filed more than 120 days before the current employment authorization expires. Since current processing times may take up to 90 days, it is advised that applicants take advantage of the full 120 days and apply for EAD Card as early as possible.

E. Replacement of The EAD

If the applicant’s previously issued EAD is lost, stolen or mutilated, or was issued with incorrect information, such as misspelled name or incorrect date of birth, he or she may request a replacement of his or her EAD. If any error is caused by USCIS or not through the fault of the applicant, no filing fee is required.

STEP 2: Provide More Information or Appear For An Interview

As soon as the Form I-765 is accepted by the USCIS, they will check for completeness, including submission of the required initial evidence.

USCIS may request that applicants submit additional information or evidence to process their application for Employment Authorization Card. Alternatively, USCIS may also request applicants to appear at a USCIS office for an interview.

NOTE 1: USCIS will reject the Form I-765 if the applicant fails to sign the Form I-765 or attach required supporting documents or submit the correct filing fee.

NOTE 2: USCIS may also request that applicants submit the originals of any document. USCIS will return the originals when they are no longer required.

STEP 3: Delays

In the past, if the applicant did not receive a decision within 90 days of receipt by USCIS of a properly filed EAD application, he or she was able obtain interim work authorization by appearing in person at his or her local USCIS District Office. The applicant was required to bring proof of identity and any notices that he or she had received from USCIS in connection with his or her application for employment authorization. USCIS local offices generally no longer issue interim EADs. USCIS now states that if the EAD is pending 75 days, a service request may be submitted to the National Customer Service Center. This is why it is strongly advised that the application be submitted 120 days in advance of expiration for renewal.

NOTE: An interim EAD was a temporary employment authorization card that one can use to begin work while waiting for the original EAD. An interim EAD Card is granted for a period not to exceed 240 days.

STEP 4: Approval or Denial

If approved, the EAD will either be mailed to the applicant or he or she will be required to appear at the local USCIS office to pick it up. If the application for EAD Card is denied, the applicant will receive a written notice explaining the basis of denial.

I-765 Work Permit Possible Problems

A. Cannot Work Without An EAD

Foreign nationals who do not a nonimmigrant work visa (i.e., H, L, O, P, etc.) cannot begin work until they have obtained their EAD. The approval procedures also do not allow any applicant to start while the application is being processed. Therefore it is important that the applicant wait for the final issuance of the EAD before taking up employment.

B. No Grace Period After The Expiration Date of EAD

The filing for renewals of the EAD must take place ahead of its expiration date as there is no available grace period during which an applicant may continue to work with an expired EAD. It is therefore important that the EAD is filed before its date of validity expires. The renewal applications are accepted up to 120 days in advance.

C. Electronic Filing Versus Paper-Based Filing

Before an applicant starts the process to apply for an EAD, it is important for him or her to determine whether he or she qualifies for electronic filing.

People would normally think that e-Filing would be more efficient and would provide faster adjudication of the applications. However, there is practically no difference between the e-Filing and paper filling of I-765 work permit, as the application will be adjudicated in the order of receipt. (You would save only 1-2 days of postal delivery time when applying online.) As online filing requires submission of required documentation by mail after filing the application online, it may not provide much incentive.

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