Some non-immigrants living in the U.S. can ask for work authorization (work permit) and an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Who is eligible to file it, how to do it, its costs and processing time, and the required documents are clearly explained by our immigration attorney.
What Is Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization?
Except for permanent residents and employment based visa holders, other non-citizens must get authorization to work in the U.S. Therefore, if you are already in the U.S. but do not have a permit to work, it may be possible, if you are eligible, to get your work permit (also known as EAD) to present to employers as an official document to show you are authorized to work in this country. This can happen by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, whether online or by mail.
Before applying for an EAD, you should know if you are eligible to avoid wasting time and money. Read on to find out or simply give us a call at (714) 877 5840 for a free consultation with an immigration attorney.
Eligibility for Filing Form I-765
Different groups of non-immigrants are considered qualified to file a Form I-765. See if you belong to any of the following categories.
Students’ visas do not usually allow them to work while studying . Although, there are some exceptions.
- F1 visa holders: After completing their studies, they are allowed to request a temporary permit to work under OPT (Optional Practical Training) program. There is also a 24-month extension for OPT for STEM. STEM refers to students who hold a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
- If an eligible international organization offers a student an internship, they can apply for a temporary work permit.
- If a student has been studying in the U.S. for a minimum of 1 year and is facing financial difficulties, they might be granted a work permit.
- J1 visa holders’ dependents (spouses and children) are also qualified for application for employment authorization.
- Individuals who study at vocational schools can get an EAD to get more training.
For more details call us at (714) 877 5840 for a consultation.
Asylees and Refugees and Their Dependents
All asylees and refugees, who do not have employment authorization, and their dependents, are allowed to file Form I-765 after a minimum of 150 days following the filing of their asylum claim application. So, to apply for a work permit, you will need legal proof to show your asylee/refugee status or the fact that your asylum application is pending.
Aliens from Certain Countries
- TPS (Temporary Protected Status): People from specified countries living in the U.S. under TPS can request work authorization. As of February 2023, these countries include Afghanistan, Burma, Cameroon, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen. Based on political and humanitarian grounds, the list may change every once in a while. You can always check the up-to-date list or look for more information on the USCIS website here.
- Micronesia, Palau, or Marshall Islands: People from these countries are allowed to file for a work permit once they enter the U.S.
- DED (Deferred Enforced Departure): People from Liberia, Hong Kong, and Venezuela are eligible to file for an EAD under DED. This list may change over time. See the up-to-date list here.
- E1 Treaty Traders’ dependents are eligible to obtain a work permit.
Some individuals can apply for an EAD on their own, without any employer to sponsor them. This includes:
- B1 visa holders: Workers for a U.S./foreign citizen. Also, airline employees whose nationality is different than the airline company.
- H1B visa holders’ spouses.
- E1 and E2 treaty traders or investors’ spouses.
- Australian E3 visa holders’ spouses (only for certain occupations).
- L1 visa holders’ spouses.
- The CNMI-only investors’ spouses.
- Some employment-based green card applicants and their dependents who are facing difficulties in their green card processing time.
Some family members of permanent U.S. citizens are eligible for an EAD.
- K1, K2, K4, and K3 visa holders (fiancé/fiancée or spouses of U.S. citizens and their children).
- V1, V2, and V2 visa holders.
- Individuals who are qualified for LIFE Act Amendments family unity or Family Unity Program. Click on each to learn more about it.
Green Card Applicants
If you are in the U.S. waiting for your Green Card approval, you can request an EAD with Form I-765 to be able to work until your GC application is approved. It is possible to apply for both of them at the same time, and in this way, you may save some money and time. Needless to say, you will need a visa number to file Form I-765.
Other Eligible Applicants
In addition to all the above-mentioned categories, there are certain other eligible individuals to apply with Form I-765.
- N8, N9, T1, T2, T3, T4, U1, U2, U3, U4, or U5 visa holders;
- Individuals granted withholding of removal;
- Individuals who have applied for suspension of deportation;
- VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioners;
- LIFE legalization applicants for adjustment of status;
- Crime victims, such as human trafficking, and their family members;
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients; (learn more about this here.)
- Individuals who entered the U.S. as public interest parolees.
Form I-765 Application Costs
You are required to pay $410 when apply for an EAD with Form I-765. However, certain groups are exempt from this filing fee if it is their first time. This includes:
- Refugees, Asylees, and parolees (individuals paroled as a refugee)
- Asylum applicants (except for ABC applicants)
- N8, N9, T1, and U1 visa holders
- Individuals who are citizens of Micronesia, Palau, or Marshall Islands
- Individuals granted withholding of removal
- Foreign governments, NATO, or international organizations staff’s dependents
- VAWA self-petitioners
- Some individuals who are applicants for or have pending applications for adjustment of status
Except for the filing fee, some applicants, such as Childhood Arrivals applicants, will be required to attend an interview at a USCIS Application Support Center, otherwise, their application would be denied. For the biometrics services during the interview, which include recording your fingerprints, signature, and photograph, you will need to pay an additional $85. No one is exempt from this fee and you cannot waive it.
Form I-765 Required Documents
The required documents to request an EAD include:
- Two passport-style photos with your full name and Alien Registration Number printed on the back;
- Copies of your passport photo page and your U.S. visa;
- A copy of your I-94 travel history (both sides) or the printout of its electronic version (you can get it from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.);
- Copies of all Employment Authorization Documents you have had (both sides);
- If you are a green card applicant and your sponsor is a green card holder, you will need an official letter from USCIS to acknowledge your green card application is pending;
- A copy of your birth certificate;
- A copy of a photo Identification Card;
- A copy of your visa which was issued by any other country;
- A copy of your national photo/fingerprint ident document.
Based on your status, you might need some of these documents. However, individuals from Guatemala and El Salvador, asylum applicants, and CNMI-only investors’ spouses may be needed to present additional documents.
How to Apply for Employment Authorization Using Form I-765?
The form can be filed online or by mail. However, before any of this, you should fill out the form. The latest update of the form is here for you to download (This version expires on 10/31/2025. For the newest version, you should visit the USCIS website).
Some parts and terminologies can be confusing. To help the applicants, USCIS has published thorough instructions on how to complete Form I-765.
Download the 27-page PDF instructions to Form I-765 here.
If you leave out some parts or do not use the correct information, there will be some complications in the process which may lead to a delay or even denial of your case.
Mail Form I-765
If you want to file an Application for Employment Authorization with another application, such as a green card, you should file Form I-765 at the center you are applying the other, for example, the location you are filing for a green card. Therefore, there is no need to submit Form I-765 to a different location.
However, in case it is the only application, you should mail it to the addresses specified by USCIS. Visit this page to find out.
Filing Form I-765 Online
An easier way is to go to the USCIS website and file it online via this link. Go down the page and look for Form I-765. The online submission gives you the opportunity to track your request more easily, update your personal information, and upload the evidence.
Processing Time for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
The processing time for an EAD can take up to 7 months, due to the backlog at USCIS. If you have submitted the application online, then you can check your case status easily.
If your request is approved, it will come through the mail or you will be asked to get it from your local USCIS office. To find the nearest office, see this page.
Common Reasons for Denial
As the form requires a lot of information, there is no surprise in making some mistakes. That is why the common reasons for EAD request denial are mostly related to the form. These include
- Forgetting to sign it;
- Incorrect information;
- Leaving out some parts;
- Problems with the documents
Appealing in Case of Denial
In the case that your application is disapproved, you are permitted to request reopening or reconsidering your application. To do so, we strongly recommend the applicant hire an immigration lawyer to handle the case. This is necessary to avoid a second denial.
An EAD is usually valid for one to two years, depending on your case. To avoid legal problems, you should request a renewal before it expires. For a renewal, you need to file Form I-765 again but people who fall into the following categories are exempt from the filing fee.
- Applicants who are citizens of Micronesia, Palau, or Marshall Islands
- Applicants who have been granted withholding of removal
- Dependents of some foreign governments, NATO, or international organizations staff
In the event that you lose your EAD or there is incorrect information on the card, it is possible to ask for a replacement.
If the error is made by USCIS, then you do not pay the filing fee again. Neither do some of the categories that are exempt from the fee.
However, if the error is made by you, you will have to submit a new Form I-765 and pay the filing fee.
Do You Need Help with Form I-765?
If you need to file form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, you can count on our immigration lawyer to guide you throughout the process. Our law office has handled numerous immigration cases is fully experienced in such matters.
Although our office is located in Orange County, California, our office can take your case no matter where you are in the United States. . Call us at (714) 877 5840 to schedule an appointment or get half an hour of free consultation.
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