Everything You Need to Know About Form I-765

Everything You Need to Know About Form I-765

Working in the United States is a huge step in your professional life. Through employment, you can support your family and yourself, and continue working towards your professional and personal goals. Having the ability to work legally in the United States is an opportunity to grow as a person, share skills you already have, and gain new skills through your work. While waiting for your green card application to be processed, you need what is called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Form I-765, Legal Work, & USCIS: An Introduction

Before we start detailing the process of filing your Form I-765, we want to stress the importance of legal work in the United States. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes legal work very seriously. If you work while your green card is still processing and have not filed a Form I-765 nor been approved for an EAD, you risk having your green card application denied.

Even if you have filed your green card application, it is still illegal to work in the U.S. until it is approved. You also need work authorization, meaning that even if you do have legal status in the U.S., your visa may not include permission to work. If you fall under either of these categories, you may be barred from entry into the United States for up to ten years—the amount of time is dependent on the length of your unauthorized work.

Thankfully, applying for an EAD is a relatively easy process. Your Form I-765 will be processed much sooner than your actual green card, so your ability to work can be expedited while you go through the long green card process.

What Is the I-765 Form?

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is a form submitted to USCIS to request an EAD. Its sole purpose is to ask USCIS for employment authorization, meaning you can legally seek out employment in the United States. Acceptance of Form I-765 will grant you an Employment Authorization Document.

What Is an EAD?

An EAD—your Employment Authorization Document—is a physical document to prove to a potential U.S. employer that you have permission to work in the United States. EADs are required in order to work legally in the U.S.

Your United States employer needs to ensure that all of their employees are legally allowed to work in the U.S. Every U.S. employer needs to check employment authorization status regardless of an employee’s citizenship status or national origin.

To reiterate, you must file Form I-765 in order to request your EAD.

Who May File Form I-765?

USCIS has three categories of eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document:

  1. Authorized because of your immigration status
  2. Authorized because you will work for a specific employer as part of your nonimmigrant status
  3. Authorized because you are in an immigration category that requires an EAD in addition to your visa

Typically, the following types of individuals apply for EADs:

Individuals with an immigration status that does allow work in the United States can file Form I-765 for an EAD that shows their unrestricted authorization to work.

Who Does Not Need to File Form I-765?

There are groups of immigrants who do not need to apply for an employment authorization document because their green cards or nonimmigrant visas have automatic authorization.

Does a Lawful Permanent Resident Need an Employment Authorization Form?

No, you do not need to file Form I-765 if you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Your green card—or permanent residence card—provides employment authorization.

Nonimmigrant Visas That Do Not Require Filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization

The following nonimmigrant visas already authorize you to work for a specific employer, thus you do not need to apply for an EAD:

  • H-1B, professional workers visa
  • L-1B, intracompany transferees with specialized knowledge
  • O visas, individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement
  • P visas, for athletes, artists, and entertainers

If you have questions on who may file form I-765, we can help you figure out if you need an EAD.

Form I-765 Instructions

In order to be granted an EAD, you will need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. If available for your position, you can file for your Form I-765 along with your Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, and your green card application. You can also submit your application after USCIS sends a receipt for your green card application.

  1. To complete your Form I-765, you first need to download the form from the USCIS website. You can also file online to:
    • Receive direct notifications about your case status
    • Update personal information
    • Upload evidence
    • Track correspondence with USCIS
  2. When filling out your I-765 form, we recommend that you type the form instead of filling it out by hand, although you do need to sign the form by hand. Other tips include:
    • Typing N/A when a question does not apply to you—do not leave an entry blank
    • Do not staple your form together
    • Include all relevant information that will help you get your EAD approval
  3. Fill out all applicable questions. Most are self-explanatory. If you have not heard of a term before, it’s always good to double-check with your immigration attorney to see if that section applies to you.
  4. When you get to part 3—Applicant Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature—remember to sign your form. Though this may seem obvious, it can be easy to bypass the signature and we have seen forms get rejected for this very reason. It is essential that you sign your form or else USCIS will reject and return your Form I-765. You would then need to restart the process and your timeline will be extended.

Where to File Form I-765

Once you have filled out your Form I-765 in its entirety, you will either submit it online or file it at a direct filing location. The direct filing location will depend on your current immigration status and category.

What Else Do I Need to File Form I-765?

Make sure you have these forms and documents to submit with your Form I-765:

  • Front and back copies of your I-94 travel record
  • Two identical passport-style photos
  • Government-issued identity document (i.e. your U.S. visa)
  • Form I-485, green card application receipt notice, if applicable
  • Any other national identity documents
  • Copy of your previous EAD (if you had one)
  • Form G-28, if applicable

You may also need to submit additional information based on your current status or immigration category. Take a look at the USCIS checklist to see other information to include.

Form I-765 Fees

The filing fee for the I-765 form is $410. You may also need to pay a biometrics fee of $85, totaling $495.

You need to pay the biometrics fee if you fall into one of these categories:

  • You are the spouse or unmarried dependent of a beneficiary with an approved employment-based immigrant petition who is facing compelling circumstances.
  • You are a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, or you are requesting DACA consideration.
  • You have a pending asylum application.
  • You have an approved employment-based immigration petition (as a beneficiary) and you are facing compelling circumstances.
  • You are a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) long-term resident status applicant.

You may also be exempt from paying the filing fee if there is a work permit application in your green card application. This will most likely happen in your package for Adjustment of Status (AOS).

EAD Timeline

EAD processing time usually takes 90 days or more, so expect over three months. However, due to massive backlogs, your EAD approval may take between five to seven months. After approval, you should receive your physical EAD card in less than 30 days.

Renew Your EAD

In order to renew your EAD, you can submit a new Form I-765 and a filing fee. You may also request a fee waiver if applicable. Typical renewal time is less than 180 days before your original EAD expires.

What If I Worked Without Authorization?

If you worked while in the United States without proper authorization, even if was just for a few hours, there is the chance that you will be prohibited from entering the United States. If you want to apply for a green card but are worried about past work that may influence your chances of green card acceptance, reach out to our experienced immigration lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates PC. We review your case and see what options you may have.

How Can an Immigration Attorney Help?

Although it is relatively simple to apply for an EAD, having guidance from an immigration lawyer will only help your case. Based on our extensive experience with EADs, we can advise you on when you need to apply and how to properly fill out the application. Just one tiny mistake can cost you the entire process. Work with an immigration attorney to ensure that your application is filled out correctly and in a timely manner.

Contact Scott D. Pollock & Associates Today

The attorneys at our immigration and nationality office have over 30 years of experience. We will be with you through the whole process of applying for your visa, filing Form I-765, and understanding the process of obtaining your EAD. We understand just how important having an EAD is for your life and family. We are here to help! Call us at 312.444.1940 or fill out our online contact form today.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!