I-765 and the Employment Authorization Document: What You Need to Know

Immigration Practice Areas > Visas > Form I-765 and the Employment Authorization Document: What You Need to Know

If you are in the United States on a visa that does not expressly permit you to work, you will most likely need to fill out and file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

This form allows you to petition the United States government for authorization to work, regardless of the type of visa you are using to stay in the country.

But who is eligible to apply for Form I-765 and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?

This guide explains.

What Is a Form I-765?

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is used by some foreign nationals in the United States to ask for permission to work while they are here.

Please note that if you need authorization from the U.S. government to work and if you fail to obtain it, you may be violating your visa’s terms, which is unlawful.

Some people are in the United States with the express purpose of working. If you have a worker visa, you may not need to obtain this authorization, but you should check with your immigration attorney just to be sure. On the other hand, you may want to obtain documentation that says you’re authorized to work in the United States, and this is the form you will use to get it.

You can also use Form I-765 to apply for a Social Security number and Social Security card. A Social Security number, or SSN, allows you to get a job, report your earnings to the United States government, and more.

Who Needs To File Form I-765?

You only need to file form I-765 if you need permission to work in the United States or if you're looking to get a Social Security number. This form can also be used to get official proof that you're allowed to work, even if you don't need this documentation right now.

If you are a green card holder, which means you’re a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you should not file Form I-765. As a permanent resident, you are already allowed to work and live anywhere in the United States.

Form I-765 - Business Immigration Services - Davis & Associates

If you have a work visa, you do not need to apply for work authorization separately.  Your work visa already authorizes you to work for your specific employer. You are allowed to work for that employer for as long as your visa is valid.

Am I Eligible To File An Application For Employment Authorization?

You may be eligible to file an Application for Employment Authorization if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • A-3 nonimmigrant
  • B-1 visa holder employed as a personal or domestic servant of a nonimmigrant employer, a U.S. citizen, or an employee of a foreign airline
  • Resident continuously since January 1, 1972
  • Dependent of certain foreign government officials, including dependents of G-1, G-3, G-4 nonimmigrants, or dependents of NATO-1 through NATO-6 nonimmigrants
  • Foreign student in specific F, J, and M visa categories
  • G-5 nonimmigrant
  • K-1 nonimmigrant fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or K-2 dependent, or a K-3 nonimmigrant spouse of a U.S. citizen or K-4 dependent
  • Participant in the Family Unity Program or LIFE Family Unity program
  • Principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition under compelling circumstances, or the spouse or unmarried child of such a person
  • Refugee or asylee in the United States
  • Spouse of an E-1 treaty trader, E-2 treaty investor, or E-3 specialty occupation professional from Australia
  • Spouse of an E-2 CNMI investor
  • Spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant
  • Spouse of an L-1 intracompany transferee
  • T-1, T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, or T-6 nonimmigrant
  • U-1, U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 visa holder
  • V-1, V-2, or V-3 nonimmigrant
  • VAWA self-petitioner

If you do not fall into one of these categories, do not worry. There may be others who are also eligible to apply. If you're uncertain about your eligibility for work authorization in the United States, consult with your immigration attorney. Your lawyer can determine your eligibility based on your specific immigration status and visa type.

The Three Eligibility Categories for Authorization to Work in the United States

If you are not a United States citizen, there are three main ways you can be eligible to work in the United States:

  1. Category 1: You are allowed to work because of your immigration status. This means your status automatically includes permission to work.
  2. Category 2: You can work for a specific employer due to your nonimmigrant status. This is common for people who are in the United States on work visas tied to particular jobs.
  3. Category 3: You belong to an immigration category that requires you to apply for work authorization. This means you need to actively seek permission to work, rather than it being automatically granted by your status.

Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Authorization Documents

Check out our most frequently asked questions about Employment Authorization Documents. If you don't see the answer to the question listed here, please feel free to call our office, we will be happy to discuss employment authorizations and other immigration matters with you.

Can Your Attorney File Form I-765 On Your Behalf?

Yes, your immigration attorney can file Form I-765 for you. If you choose to have your attorney file this form for you, you will need to provide all the necessary supporting documents. After the form is submitted, both you and your attorney can monitor the status of your application to ensure everything is progressing smoothly.

How Long Does It Take For An I-765 Application For Employment Authorization To Be Approved?

The processing time for a Form I-765 generally falls within 6 months of submission. However, the timeline can vary depending on specific circumstances and the applicant's category. For instance, individuals applying as initial asylum seekers often receive a decision within 30 days.

What Happens After USCIS Receives Your Form I-765?

As soon as USCIS receives your Form I-765, you should get a receipt notice. The receipt lets you know that USCIS received the document – but nothing more. Then, you will receive a biometric services notice. This notice includes the date, time, and location for your appointment at an Application Support Center (ASC). At this appointment, you will provide biometric data such as fingerprints, which allows the United States government to verify your identity and conduct necessary background and security checks.

Finally, you will be informed of USCIS’s final decision on your application for employment authorization. Both you and your attorney can track the progress of your application through a USCIS online account.

What Should You Bring to a Biometrics Appointment?

Commonly called an ASC appointment (because it is held at an Application Support Center), your biometrics appointment is an important one. For this appointment, you should bring your ASC appointment notice, provided on Form I-797C, and a valid photo ID. Acceptable forms of ID include your passport, driver’s license, or any other government-issued document with your photo.

During your appointment, you will submit your biometric information through machines. That means USCIS will obtain your photo, take your fingerprints, and record your signature. The purpose of collecting this information is to verify your identity, ensuring USCIS knows exactly who they are processing, and to conduct a background check.

Note: In some cases, USCIS does not need to take your photo – sometimes they only need fingerprints. In other cases, they only need to take a print of your index finger.

I-765 and the Employment Authorization Document - Davis & AssociatesWhat Does I-765 Approval Mean?

If your Form I-765 is approved, it means that you have been granted employment authorization in the United States. Your employment authorization allows you to work in the United States, even if your current visa is not a worker visa. You will receive an employment authorization document, which comes in the form of a card, that has your photo on it and an expiration date. This card allows you to demonstrate your legal employment status to potential or current employers, confirming that you are authorized to work in the United States.

Are Form I-765 And The Employment Authorization Document The Same As A Green Card?

No, Form I-765, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and a green card are distinct items with different purposes:

  • Form I-765 is the application you complete and submit when you need permission to work in the U.S. without a work-specific visa. This form is used to request employment authorization.
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also known as the USCIS I-766 card or a work permit, is what you receive if your Form I-765 application is approved. This card serves as proof that you are legally permitted to work in the United States.
  • A Green Card, in contrast, is a document that identifies you as a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. Holding a green card means you can live and work anywhere within the United States without needing any separate employment authorization. It offers broader rights and is different from both Form I-765 and an EAD.

Can You Replace Your EAD If You Lose It?

Yes, you can get a replacement EAD if you lose yours. You will have to fill out a form and send it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to get a replacement card.

Can You Renew An EAD?

Yes, you can renew your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if you continue to meet the eligibility criteria for employment authorization after your current document expires. To renew your EAD, you need to complete and submit a new Form I-765, just like you did the first time. Your immigration attorney can assist you with this process. Remember, you will also need to pay the filing fee again when you submit your renewal application.

What Happens if You Work Without Authorization?

Generally, anyone who is not a green card holder or U.S. citizen (except those who are in the U.S. on a work visa) must show an employer that they have an Employment Authorization Document from the government. Employers are not supposed to hire people who do not have this document.

Working without an EAD can lead to serious legal repercussions. You may face penalties such as being disqualified from obtaining a green card in the future. More severely, you could be subject to a ban from entering the United States for up to ten years. It's crucial to ensure that you have proper authorization to work to avoid these significant consequences.

Do You Need To Talk To An Immigration Attorney About Filing Form I-765, Application For Employment Authorization?

If you're unsure about your eligibility for employment authorization, or if you need assistance completing and submitting your immigration paperwork, we may be able to give you the assistance you need.

Contact our office to arrange a consultation with a compassionate and knowledgeable professional. During this consultation, you can discuss your situation, explore your options, and receive guidance on how to proceed with your application.

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