Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) are essentially ID cards that the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) provides to eligible foreign individuals. This allows them to work in the United States.
This document is commonly referred to as a "work permit." Within USCIS, they officially call this document Form I-766.
Within the EAD card, you'll find a picture of the person allowed to work. This may also feature their fingerprint. Typically, having an EAD means you have the green light for open-market employment, but remember that there can be some exceptional cases. These I-766 Forms are considered valid I-9 documents that employers can use.
EAD's Validity Period
Usually, Employment Authorization Cards stay effective until their expiry date. The USCIS provides cards for a period of up to two years or less, based on the person's immigration situation.
Certain EADs, like those for TPS holders and special categories, may automatically extend beyond the card's expiration date.
Qualifications for Employment Authorization Documents
In essence, two main groups of nonimmigrants can seek an EAD. Some foreign individuals have permission to work in the United States due to their immigration status. Even though they already have work authorization, they might require proof. This group includes individuals like asylees and refugees.
On the other hand, some foreign nationals are in the U.S. but must formally ask for permission to work. Examples contain individuals in the following categories:
- Those with an ongoing process of adjusting their status,
- DACA recipients,
- those seeking asylum,
- and specific students.
A Green card holder who is a permanent resident doesn't require Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). Their green card already serves as evidence of their status and work permission.
Similarly, nonimmigrants who possess specific employment authorization with a particular employer don't need an EAD. Examples of such nonimmigrants in this category are those holding TN and H-1B visas.
How to Make an EAD Request
Individuals from other countries who qualify for Employment Authorization Documents can request using Form I-765, the Employment Authorization Application. In certain situations, the first application for permission to work must be included with the request for the primary status.
For an initial request, an applicant typically has to submit the following requirements:
- I-765 Form
- USCIS fees
- Duplicate of I-94 Form Arrival/Departure Records
- Two Passport-sized photos
- Proof of your eligibility
The list provided is a generalization. Alternatively, individuals need to offer different specific documents based on their eligibility criteria. Moreover, some initial I-765 applications are filed alongside the primary submission.
To extend your EAD, ensure you're still eligible for work authorization. Submit a fresh Form I-765 and choose the "renewal" category. As a rule, it's best not to apply for a renewed EAD 180 days before your current one expires.
You can obtain a replacement if your latest EAD is stolen, lost, or damaged. To do so, complete a fresh Form I-765 and choose the "replacement" category. If you have never received an EAD sent by USCIS, you can inquire about the non-delivery of the card.