Obtain a US Work Permit: Employment Authorization Document
What is a US Work Permit (Employment Authorization Document)?
U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. If you are not a citizen or a Green Card holder (also called a lawful permanent resident or immigrant), you may need to apply for a US Work Permit, formally called an "Employment Authorization Document," to prove you may work in the United States.
USCIS issues US Work Permits (Employment Authorization Documents or "EAD"s) in the following categories:
- EAD: This document proves you are allowed to work in the United States.
- Renewal EAD: You should apply for a renewal Employment Authorization Document / US Work Permit six months before your original EAD expires.
- Replacement EAD: This document replaces a lost, stolen, or mutilated Employment Authorization Document / US Work Permit. A replacement EAD also replaces an Employment Authorization Document that was issued with incorrect information, such as a misspelled name.
- Interim EAD: If USCIS does not approve or deny your Employment Authorization Document / US Work Permit application within 90 days (within 30 days for an asylum applicant), you may request an interim EAD document.
- The specific categories that require a US Work Permit / Employment Authorization Document include but are not limited to: asylees and asylum seekers; refugees; students seeking particular types of employment; applicants to adjust to permanent residence status; people in or applying for temporary protected status; fiances of American citizens; and dependents of foreign government officials.
- See USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) for a complete list of the categories of people who must apply for a US Work Permit to be able to work in the United States.
- If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need a Work Permit / Employment Authorization Document.
- If you are a Green Card holder (legal permanent resident or a conditional permanent resident), you do not need an Employment Authorization Document / US Work Permit. Your Permanent Resident Card ("Green Card") proves that you may work in the United States.
- If you are authorized to work for a specific employer, you do not need an Employment Authorization Document / US Work Permit. Your passport and your I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card) prove that you may work in the United States.
Apply for a US Work Permit
To apply for a US Work Permit, you must file USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) by mail with the USCIS Service Center that serves the area where you live. Read the entire application carefully and submit the correct documents, photos, and fee. Forms are available online, or by calling 1-800-870-3676, or by submitting an online request to receive immigration forms by mail. Further information on forms, filing fees, and fee waivers is available in USCIS Forms / INS Forms and Other US Immigration Forms, Fees & Filing Locations.
If USCIS does not approve or deny your Employment Authorization Document / US Work Permit application within 90 days (within 30 days for an asylum applicant), you may request an interim Employment Authorization Document. You must go to your local USCIS District office and bring with you proof of your identity and any documents that USCIS has sent you about your employment authorization application.
Check My Work Permit Application Status
You may check the status of your US Work Permit application or case online, by phone, or by contacting an appropriate USCIS office. For details see USCIS Case Status: Check USCIS Case Status for Visas and Immigration. You may also want to review US Visa Wait Times and USCIS Immigration Processing Times. For more assistance, see HELP! (below).
Appeal if My Work Permit is Denied
If your application for an Employment Authorization Document / US Work Permit is denied, you will receive a letter that will tell you why the application was denied. You will not be allowed to appeal a negative decision to a higher authority. However, you may submit a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider with the office that made the unfavorable decision. By filing these motions, you may ask the office to reexamine or reconsider their decision. A motion to reopen must state the new facts that are to be provided in the reopened proceeding and must be accompanied by affidavits or other documentary evidence. A motion to reconsider must establish that the decision was based on an incorrect application of law or USCIS policy, and further establish that the decision was incorrect based on the evidence in the file at the time the decision was made. For more information, see How to Appeal if USCIS Denied My Petition or Application (US Immigration, Green Card Denial).
- Have a specific question? To help you find an answer quickly, we have placed "Ask a Visa & Immigration Lawyer" boxes on this page. Simply type a question in any of the boxes to receive a response online from a visa and immigration lawyer.
- You may also contact your nearest USCIS District Office or Sub Office. This link provides telephone numbers, addresses, directions, office hours, local filing procedures, and more (and also provides access to information about USCIS Service Centers).
- Or, call the national USCIS toll-free information service at 1-800-375-5283.
- You may also want to seek the advice of an immigration attorney (this link will help you find the right lawyer for your case), or an immigrant assistance organization. A list of accredited organizations and individuals is maintained by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which also maintains a list of free legal service providers.