Everything you need to know about how to get a work permit in 2021 if you are an immigrant who wants to work legally in the USA.
Although immigration procedures can sometimes be complicated, fortunately, the procedure to submit an application for a work permit in the USA, or employment authorization document (EAD), is quite simple. However, it is essential to ensure that you meet all the requirements before submitting the application, to avoid wasting time and money.
The first steps to obtain a work permit are simple. You will need to complete a USCIS form called Form I-765 or Application for Employment Authorization, and pay the corresponding fee, as well as send all necessary documents to prove that you are eligible. To help you go through this process with ease and avoid making unnecessary mistakes that can jeopardize your application, below we answer the most frequently asked questions when applying for a work permit through Form I-765.
What are the requirements to apply for a work permit?
A work permit is available only to some groups of migrants, and they are mostly intended for those who are already in the process of applying for an adjustment of status or Green Card, or who already have some type of visa or temporary permit to reside in the United States.
Among other cases, the work permit application is available for:
- K-1 fiancé visa holders
- Spouses of many types of visa holders
- Persons with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Forced Departure (DED)
- F-1 students experiencing financial hardship or seeking optional practical training (OPT)
In some cases, it is also possible to obtain a work permit if you received political asylum. For a complete list, you can consult the official USCIS page, where you can read in detail what type of immigrants can access this benefit. If you have questions about your immigration case or that of a family member, do not hesitate to contact us!
In addition, it is important that you do not confuse the application for a work permit (EAD) with the application for a temporary work visa for the United States, such as an H-1B. These are different processes, each with its own rules and requirements.
How do I complete the USCIS Form I-765 to obtain a work permit in the USA?
The form that you will have to fill out for your work permit application is called Form I-765, available for free download on the USCIS website. Most of the form consists of completing your personal data and does not require further explanation. You must enter your name, contact information, place of residence, among other information.
But it is important that you take into account some details. For example, question 22 asks about your last entry to the United States. Many people get confused and write the date of their first entry into the country, but what USCIS wants to know is what was the last time you entered the country, even if you already resided in the country and only made a short trip abroad. In the “Entry Form” section, Form I-765 also requires you to specify the type of visa you used to enter the country.
Question 27 is a bit harder. You will need to check the complete Form I-765 instructions (also available on the USCIS website) to find out which eligibility category you fall into.
For example, some of the more common categories include:
- Category (a) (5) for whom asylum protection was granted.
- Category (a) (12) for people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
- Category (c) (3) (C) for students undertaking optional practical training after completion of their studies.
- Category (c) (5) for J-2 spouses of a J-1 exchange visitor.
- Category (c) (9) for anyone with a pending application for adjustment of status (Green Card).
If your category has only two letters or numbers, don’t worry about the fact that there are three empty spaces on the form. Just write the corresponding letter in the second pair of parentheses and the number in the third.
What evidence must I submit with the work permit application?
To prove that you are eligible to apply for a work permit, you must submit a photocopy that proves your immigration status described in Question 29. For example, if you submitted your application as an asylee, you will need to attach a copy of the letter from the asylum office or the order granting you asylum. In either case, the Form I-765 instructions detail what documents you must submit.
However, keep in mind that if you apply for a work permit at the same time as you submit an application for adjustment of status or TPS, you will not need to include proof of eligibility. USCIS will determine that you are eligible from the request you submitted.
How much is the work permit fee?
In 2021, the fee amount is $410. But USCIS fee amounts change frequently, so we recommend that you check the website for the updated amount. If you also initiated a deferred action procedure, you will have to pay a biometric fee of $85.
Some categories of applicants do not need to pay the fee. For example, those who simultaneously file an application to adjust their status are usually already covered with the fee paid for this form. To make the payment you can send the money by money order, check or credit card.
How do I submit my work permit application to USCIS?
Most applicants must submit the I-765 application to USCIS by mail. Search the website carefully to find out which address to send your request to. The address will depend on your eligibility category, and it will be different if you use the US postal service or a private courier service.
For some categories, online submission is also available. For example, this option was available to F-1 students who applied based on optional practical training (OPT) in mid-2021, and it is expected that it could soon be expanded to other categories.
Finally, we recommend that you make a complete copy of everything you submit in your application package, including checks, before submitting it. This will be very useful in case there are problems with the shipment or if you want to consult an immigration attorney later to help you with your case.
If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-0800!