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How to apply for an Employment Authorization Document

If you are working in the US as a foreign national you may be able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work legally while in the country.

Working with a specialist immigration lawyer can help maximize your chances of a successful application. Call Total Law on +1 844 290 6312 for a confidential discussion about how we can help you and your loved ones settle in the United States.

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    The Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

    Foreign nationals are able to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if they meet a range of criteria detailed by the Citizenship and Immigration Services. This special document is used to prove that a person is able to legally working in the US for the period covered by the card, as well as displaying their name, photo, immigrant category and immigrant registration number.

    A Employment Authorization Document is available for qualifying visa holders, as well as asylum seekers, international students and those awaiting status adjustment.

    An employer is required to have employees complete an I-9 form which asks for proof that they are legally allowed to work in the US. All workers in the US must pay payroll and income taxes, regardless of nationality or immigration status. Failure to pay taxes can cause complications in any future application for United States citizenship.


    Who is eligible for a Employment Authorization Document?

    Many foreign nationals are able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document. If someone is a lawful permanent resident they do not need to apply for the Employment Authorization Document unless they are adjusting their status while living in the US.

    Those who are able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document include:

    • Individuals in the United States under temporary protected status such as asylum seekers or refugees and their dependents (spouses and children)
    • International students in the United States under a valid F1 and M1 status who can meet the EAD requirements for work under their visa and wish to complete optional practical training
    • Individuals from certain countries who qualify for an EAD
    • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients
    • Individuals in the United States under Deferred Enforced Departure
    • Those with a pending I-485 Form (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)
    • Those with a pending I-589 Form (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal)
    • Certain H4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
    • L2 Visa holders
    • K3 Visa holders
    • Eligible K4 Visa holders
    • J2 Visa holders
    • Eligible dependents of employees of diplomatic missions, International Organization, or NATO
    • Spouses of non-immigrant employment-based visas (E1 E2, E3 work visa)
    • P4 Visa holders
    • Any other eligible visa category


    Applying for an Employment Authorization Document

    Those who are eligible to apply for a work permit can obtain their Employment Authorization Document by filling a Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).

    This form can be downloaded from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. It is important to check the form is the latest version otherwise any application could be delayed due to incorrect information and you will be requested to send a new form.

    A number of documents need to be submitted with the form so that a decision can be made on whether to grant a Employment Authorization Document or not. The fees for applying for the EAD also need to be paid on submission, as well as any other costs such as the collection of biometric information.

    The form can be sent online or via post. It is important to ensure copies of the form plus proof of payment is retained – just in case there are queries at a later date or a USCIS error.

    If sending by post, it is advisable to check it is being sent to the correct Citizenship and Immigration Services location as this can vary by state and immigration category.

    Documents needed for an EAD

    Anyone applying for a Employment Authorization Document will be required to prove their current status, immigration category and eligibility criteria.

    As well as the form, applicants will need to send the following documents:

    • A front and back copy of the applicant’s Form I-94 (Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Record) or a printout of their electronic Form I-94
    • Passport or another travel document
    • A copy of the last EAD (if applicable)
    • Two identical passport-style photographs
    • Form G-28 (if represented by an attorney or accredited representative)
    • A copy of a government-issued identity document (if the applicant was not previously issued an EAD)
    • A copy of the applicant’s U.S. visa (if applicable)
    • Copy of receipt notice from USCIS (if filing Form I-485)

    You may wish to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney on the specific supporting documents to submit alongside your EAD application.

    Employment Authorization Document fee waiver

    Under some circumstances it is possible to have the first EAD processing fee waived. This applies if the applicant is one of the following:

    • A refugee
    • A person paroled as a refugee
    • An asylum-seeker in the United States
    • N-8 or N-9 nonimmigrant
    • A citizen of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau
    • A person granted Withholding of Deportation
    • A victim of a severe form of trafficking (T-1 Nonimmigrant)
    • A person applying under Temporary Protected Status if you are filing an initial TPS application and you are under 14 years of age or over 65 years of age
    • A victim of qualifying criminal activity (U-1 Nonimmigrant);
    • A dependent of a certain foreign government, international organization, or NATO personnel
    • An applicant for asylum and Withholding of Deportation and Removal (an applicant filing under the special ABC procedures must pay the filing fee)
    • Any current Adjustment of Status or Registry applicant who filed Form I-485 on or after July 30, 2007, and paid the appropriate Form I-485 filing fee
    • A Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioner

    There is a renewal EAD fee waiver available for the following applicants:

    • A citizen of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau
    • A person granted Withholding of Deportation
    • A dependent of a certain foreign government, international organization, or NATO personnel
    • Any current Adjustment of Status or Registry applicant who filed for adjustment of status on or after July 30, 2007, and paid the appropriate Form I-485 filing fee


    The cost of an Employment Authorization Document

    The filing fee when applying for an EAD can be paid online using a debit or credit card. Alternatively, the fees can be paid with a money order, personal check or cashier’s check via the post. Any checks must be made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.

    The current cost of applying for an EAD is:

    • Employment Authorization Document processing fee: $410
    • Biometrics: $85

    Processing times for an Employment Authorization Document

    In most cases applications for Employment Authorization Documents are processed in around six months although this is subject to change depending on current backlogs etc.

    You should double check when applying for a EAD that you have provided the correct documentation and requested information to avoid any potential delays with your application.

    Does an EAD have an expiration date?

    Once issued, an EAD has a validity period of 1 year. However, if it has been granted because the applicant is applying because of an adjustment to status then it will be valid for two years in total.

    For anyone living in the US and working then they will need to apply to renew their EAD each year otherwise they will have to cease working. It is possible to submit a renewal application up to 180 dates before the expiration date of the current EAD.

    Being refused an Employment Authorization Document

    There are a number of reasons why a EAD could be refused – although the main reason is because the Form I 765 was not completed correctly and information has not been included to enable the immigration services to make a decision.

    If you are denied a EAD card then you will receive a letter detailing the reasons why you were refused and do not qualify for a valid EAD.

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      How Can Total Law Help?

      All of our lawyers are fully accredited with the appropriate legal bodies and you may be confident that the information we provide is fully accurate.

      No matter how complex your case is, we can provide a tailored plan to help you achieve your goals. We work tirelessly on your behalf, attempting all legal options to assist you in immigrating to the U.S. with your loved ones and do our best to ensure that your petition is approved.

      We recognize that immigration and visa applications are major decisions in a person’s life and that they can impact many lives.

      That is why we provide the highest care and attention to all of our clients and ensure that they are given all their legal options so that they may make an informed decision about their future and the future of their families.

      Your dedicated immigration lawyer will work with you throughout the entire process, communicating with you regularly to answer your questions and advise on the next steps.

      At the beginning of the process, you can expect us to give you clear and accurate information about how much the process will cost and an anticipated timeline.

      If you have any questions at any stage, our friendly and professional client care teams can work directly with you so that you feel confident in the process.

      Call us on +1 844 290 6312 for a confidential discussion about how we can assist you with your immigration case. We look forward to assisting you over the phone or by online call.

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