US Work Authorization Meaning: What is Work Authorization Status?

US Work Authorization Meaning: What is Work Authorization Status?

Moving to the United States is a big step in your personal and professional life. When you immigrate to America to continue your life, you may be coming here to work temporarily or permanently, cultivate relationships, or even become a U.S. citizen. If you are coming to America petitioning for a visa other than a work-visa, you have the opportunity to become a legal employee. You may also need the economic support from working while awaiting your green card processing acceptance. Through U.S. work authorization, you are able to legally begin working in the United States while waiting for your green card to process.

What Is Work Authorization?

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is the official title for work authorization, meaning that your work authorization status is granted through an EAD application. Luckily, filing for a work authorization document (EAD) is a fairly simple process. Your immigration attorney can help you apply for your Employment Authorization Document at the same time as you file your green card application.

To define work authorization, your Employment Authorization Document is a card that lets you hold a job in the United States. You need the card if you are not a citizen and do not yet have your work visa green card. If you are getting an employment-based visa, you no longer need your EAD because your green card will be sufficient proof to show you are able to legally work in the U.S.

What Does Work Authorization Mean?

Work authorization means that you are lawfully permitted to work in the United States. Regardless of your current citizenship, your work authorization status with your Employment Authorization Document allows you to become a U.S. employee.

What Work Authorization Is Not

A United States work authorization is not your visa card. The EAD is simply documentation that is meant to provide a legal way for you to work while waiting for your visa to process.

If you have a visa that is not a work visa, such as a fiancé, family, or student visa, you do not automatically have permission to work. You must still have an EAD to gain employment. Legal status in the United States does not automatically equate to legal working status. After you receive your EAD, you can begin working in America regardless of what type of visa you have.

Consequences Of Working Without Work Authorization Status

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Service takes legal employment seriously. In order to work in the United states while your card petition is pending, you must have an EAD. If you begin working without work authorization, then you may invalidate your green card and not be able to attain your visa or immigrant status.

What Is Work Authorization Eligibility?

Any person who is awaiting their green card is eligible to apply for work authorization. The form to file to request employment authorization is Form I-765. The application form has numerous categories depending on what visa you are applying for. The USCIS provides an eligibility category list for which Form I-765 category to complete.

What Is Your Work Authorization Status?

Categories for work authorization eligibility include:

  • Lawful temporary resident
  • Refugee
  • Asylee
  • Spouse of a specific visa holder
  • Dependent of a specific visa holder
  • Visa holders adjusting to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status
  • F-1 student: there are multiple category types for F-1 students. If you are a student applying for your EAD, speak with your immigration lawyer for direction on the correct category to file for.

What is the Work Authorization Process: How To Get Work Authorization In U.S.

The first step to applying for your Employment Authorization Document is by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The form is submitted to the USCIS. The most updated form, the one you will be filing for, includes a section to apply for a Social Security Number, as well. To file your Form I-765, you can fill out an online form or submit through the mail.

Your immigration attorney can guide you through the processes of filing form I-765 whether you are applying while filing for your green card, after you file for a green card, or to renew or replace your EAD.

What Are Work Authorization Requirement Items

Each visa has different requirements to submit when filing your Form I-765. Depending on your pending or current visa, you will have to provide specific items and documentation confirming your current status as a visa applicant.

However, there are a few general requirements to submit your employment application including:

  • Two identical passport-style photographs.
  • A copy of your Form I-94, Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure record. You will need copies of the front and the back of the document. You may also provide your passport, other travel documents, or a printed copy of your electronic Form I-94
  • If you are renewing your EAD, the copy of your last EAD
  • If you are working with an immigration attorney, your Form G-28
  • Government-issued identity document

Speak with your immigration lawyer about additional documents you will need to submit along with your employment application.

Form I-765 Filing Fee

The filing fee is $410. There may be a biometrics service fee of $85 if you are required to get a biometrics exam.  If you are filing your Form I-765 along with your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status, you do not have to pay the EAD application fee.

What Is U.S. Work Authorization Valid Timeline?

Your EAD lasts for two years. You are able to both renew and replace your EAD. If your EAD is about to expire, you can actually renew your EAD 180 days before your work authorization expiration date. To both renew or replace your EAD, all you need to do is submit another Form I-765 and any required fees.

Contact An Immigration Attorney Today

The experienced attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. can help you apply for your visa and your EAD. Having work authorization status is an important step in starting your life in the United States. We can stay with you through your entire visa process to make sure that you are able to work legally in the United States. Contact us at 312.444.1940 today.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!