Can I Work in the United States While Waiting for My Green Card?

Can I Work in the United States While Waiting for My Green Card?

If you’re like many people, you’re ready to apply for a U.S. green card – and you may be in a situation where you need to work. But can you work in the United States while you’re waiting for a green card? This guide explains.

Is it Legal to Work in the U.S. When You’re Waiting for a Green Card?

It is legal to work in the United States while you’re waiting for a green card. However, you will need to obtain what’s called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is also known as a work permit.

The good news is that it may be pretty easy for you to get an EAD. In most cases, all you need to do is have your immigration attorney submit an application, along with the appropriate fee. Often, people who apply (provided they qualify) receive an EAD within several months.

After you have your EAD, you’re free to work in the United States. Note that there are some restrictions on what type of work you can do – for example, you can’t work for the government. But in general, an EAD allows you to work for any employer in the United States.

Related: Why would the government deny a green card application?

What If I Don’t Have an Employment Authorization Document?

If you don’t have an EAD, you’re not legally allowed to work in the United States. Doing so could put your application at risk, and it could cause serious problems with your entire immigration process.

Common Questions About Working During the Green Card Application Process

5. Employment Authorization - Davis & AssociatesCheck out these common questions about working while waiting for a green card. If you don’t see the answer to your question here, give us a call and schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney. Your attorney can help you by giving you the answers you need – and they can help you apply for employment authorization if necessary.

Related: Where to find loved ones who are in ICE custody

How Long Does it Take to Get an EAD While Waiting for a Green Card (and Is It Worth Applying)?

The answer to this question depends on a few different factors, including processing times. Sometimes people receive EADs within a few months; in other cases, they wait between six and eight months. Depending on how far you are into the green card application process, it may or may not be worth applying. You should talk to your immigration attorney if you’re interested in working while waiting for green card approval; they can give you case-specific legal advice.

Related: How much do immigration lawyers charge (and why)?

How Do You Prove That You’re Authorized to Work?

If USCIS reviews your application for employment authorization and approves you to work, you will receive what’s called an Employment Authorization Document, or an EAD. An EAD is a card that provides physical proof of your permission to work and contains your photograph and sometimes your fingerprint. It’s essentially a work permit, and you will need to show this card to potential employers—otherwise, they won’t be able to hire you.

When Does an Employment Authorization Document Expire?

EADs typically last for two years. After that, they can be renewed for two-year intervals. If your EAD is about to expire, you should file to renew it within 180 days of the date of its expiration in order to prevent a disruption in your employment authorization. To do so, you will need to file a new Form I-765 and the filing fee, unless you’re approved for a fee waiver. (If your work permit is lost, stolen, or destroyed, you’ll follow the same process).

After Your Green Card is Approved, Will You Still Need an EAD?

Once you’re granted a green card, you won’t need an EAD anymore. You can work for anyone, anywhere in the U.S.

What if You Work Without a Permit?

A person who works for an employer in the U.S. without having a work permit is unlawfully employed. An individual is also considered unlawfully employed if their permit expires and they continue to work. Unlawful employment, however, does not just mean employment with a company. It also pertains to an individual operating a business enterprise of their own.

Unlawful employment includes:

Creating a business or running its day-to-day operations
Performing freelance work online
Engaging in foreign exchange trading (Forex)
If an individual works without having employment authorization, USCIS could bar them from adjusting their status (preventing them from getting a green card)—whether their illegal work is performed before or after they apply to adjust status. The person could also face removal proceedings, as well as become inadmissible for future entry into the United States. This means their visa will be canceled.

Are There Legal Ways to Earn Income Without Having Employment Authorization?

Not having employment authorization does not mean you aren’t permitted to generate income. You are allowed to make passive financial investments, which means having assets like savings accounts that produce returns, and investments in stocks and bonds. You are also permitted to become a passive investor in a private enterprise.

If you want the benefit of gainful employment in the U.S. without violating immigration law and incurring the strict penalties that follow, it’s in your best interest to work with an immigration attorney to obtain employment authorization.

What Kind of Job Can You Work While Waiting for Your Green Card?

There are no restrictions on the type of job you can work while waiting for a green card. You’re free to work any legal job in the United States, as long as you have an EAD.

Do You Need a Social Security Number to Work While Waiting for Your Green Card?

You need a social security number to work while waiting for your green card. An EAD does not automatically give you a social security number. However, you can apply for one after you have your EAD. You’ll need to fill out an application and submit it to the Social Security Administration.

It’s important to note that you can only get a social security number if you’re legally allowed to work in the United States. If you don’t have an EAD, you won’t be able to get a social security number.

Related: Is it possible to get a green card if you have a criminal record?

What Documents Do You Need to Apply for a Work Permit While Waiting for a Green Card?

To apply for a work permit while waiting for a green card, you’ll need to submit an application, along with the appropriate fee, as well as:

  • A copy of your Form I-94
  • Two passport-style photographs
  • A copy of your last EAD, if you’ve ever had one before
  • A government-issued identity document

Are There Limits on the Number of Hours You Can Work With an EAD?

No, there are no limits on the number of hours you can work with an EAD. You’re free to work as many or as few hours as you want, as long as you have an EAD.

Do You Need to Show Your EAD to Prospective Employers?

You’ll need to show your EAD to prospective employers. An EAD is proof that you’re allowed to work in the United States. Employers can’t legally hire you without seeing your EAD.

What Happens if You Get Fired or Quit When You Have an EAD?

Nothing will happen to you if you get fired or quit while you have an EAD (other than being out of a job, that is). That’s because an EAD lets you work anywhere you’d like. You won’t lose your EAD if you get fired or quit a job.

Related: The complete guide to adjustment of status

Will You Still Need a Work Permit After You Get a Green Card?

After you have a green card, you’ll no longer need an EAD to work in the United States. You’ll be able to work for any employer, without any restrictions.

Can You Apply for a Green Card and a Work Permit at the Same Time?

Yes, you can apply for a green card and a work permit at the same time. In fact, it’s often a good idea to do so; it can help minimize your wait time.

Related: What is consular processing?

What Happens if You Work in the U.S. Without Employment Authorization?

Working in the United States without employment authorization is a serious offense. If you’re caught working without an EAD, you could be deported and your green card application could be denied. If you’re deported, there are serious consequences; in fact, you may not be allowed to return to the United States.

Applying for a Green Card

Applying for a green card can be a long and complicated process, but it’s important to remember that you can still work in the United States while you’re waiting for your application to go through.

5. Employment in the U.S. with a Green Card

You may be eligible for a green card if:

  • You’re the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen
  • You have a family member who is a green card holder
  • You’re a refugee or asylee
  • You’re a victim of human trafficking or domestic violence
  • You have a special immigrant status
  • You’re a religious worker
  • You’re an investor
  • You have a job offer from a U.S. employer
  • You’re a student
  • You’re a member of the military
  • You’re a national of a country with a special relationship with the United States

Many people choose to work with a Dallas or Houston immigration attorney to apply for a green card. That’s because the process can be long and complex. Your attorney can help you through the entire application process, including applying for an Employment Authorization Document.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Work Authorization and Green Cards?

If you’re waiting for a green card, you may want to talk to an experienced immigration attorney about your work authorization options. An attorney can help you through the entire green card application process. Your lawyer can also help you with any other immigration-related issues you may have.

Call us today to schedule your consultation with a caring, experienced immigration attorney who can give you the help you need.


About Davis & Associates:

Davis & Associates is the immigration law firm of choice in Houston & North Texas including Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, McKinney and surrounding areas. Their attorneys provide expert legal counsel for all aspects of immigration law, including deportation defense, writs of habeas corpus and mandamus, family-sponsored immigration, employment-sponsored immigration, investment immigration, employer compliance, temporary visas for work and college, permanent residence, naturalization, consular visa processing, waivers, and appeals. Attorney Garry L. Davis is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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