How to Get a Work Permit in the U.S.A

Getting a U.S. work permit, which is also called an employment authorization document or EAD, is a pretty simple process. You need to fill out a short form, and send it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with the fee, photos, and documents that prove you are eligible (USCIS).

Who Can Get a Work Permit (EAD) to Work in the U.S.?

A work permit is only given to a small number of foreigners. Most of the time, these are people who are trying to get a green card or have a temporary right to be in the U.S.

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EADs are available to people with a K-1 fiancé visa, asylees, spouses of people with different visas, people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), F-1 students who are having money problems or want to do optional practical training (OPT), etc. Who Can Get a Work Permit in the U.S.? has more information.

Also, don’t confuse getting a work permit with getting a visa to the U.S. based on work, such as an H-1B. This makes filling out an application much harder. Learn more about how to get an H-1B visa by reading this article. A work permit is not the same as a U.S. green card, which shows that a person lives in the U.S. permanently.


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How do I fill out Form I-765 to get a work permit from USCIS?

Form I-765 can be downloaded for free from the USCIS website. The following discusses the 07/26/22 version.

Self-explanatory form. Name, contact info, etc. are required. Question 22 asks for your most recent arrival into the U.S., even if you’ve been here for a long and just traveled abroad. “Entry method,” asks about your visa.

Question 27 may be the hardest. You can find the I-765 instructions on the USCIS website. Common categories include (a)(5) for asylum, (a)(12) for TPS, (c)(3)(C) for post-completion optional practical training, (c)(5) for J-2 spouses of a J-1 exchange visitor, and (c)(9) for anyone with a pending adjustment of status (green card) application.

If your category includes only two characters or numbers (like (c)(9), don’t bother about the three spaces (formed by the parentheses). Just add the “c” and “9” in parentheses.

What other proof do I need to show that I can get a work permit?

Copy your Question 29 status to show that you are eligible for a work permit. If you asked for asylum, you should send a letter or a judge’s order. The instructions for Form I-765 list the documents that are needed.

If you are applying for TPS or adjustment of status at the same time as a work permit, you do not need to show proof of eligibility. Your application will tell us if you can join.

How do I pay for my EAD?

Late 2022: $410 charge. Check the USCIS website to see what the current fees are. You must also pay a $85 biometrics fee if you are asking for deferred action, applying for CNMI long-term resident status, or applying as a worker whose employment-based immigrant petition was approved but you face compelling circumstances (or are that person’s spouse or unmarried dependent child) (for fingerprinting and such).

Some applicants don’t have to pay the I-765 application fee, like those who want to change their status to get a green card (their I-485 fee covers it). Check the Form I-765 instructions to see if you’re one of them.

Money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Credit Card Authorization.

How do I submit EAD to USCIS?

Most candidates must mail USCIS Form I-765. Check the website’s address. It depends on your eligibility category and is different for U.S. mail and package/courier services.

Creating a USCIS account allows online filing in a few areas.

Before mailing your submission packet, copy everything, including the checks. Then, track USCIS’s decision-making process; it will take longer than you expect.

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