What is the Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?
U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. Having an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is one way to prove that you are allowed to work in the United States for a specific time period. The EAD is an identification card that contains important information including the individual’s name, date of birth, validity period, eligibility category, and photo. This document is often used by agencies that issue certain benefits, for example the Department of Motor Vehicle, as proof of lawful presence, in compliance with the REAL ID Act.
Who needs to apply for an EAD?
Not everyone needs an EAD to show proof of employment authorization. Individuals holding nonimmigrant visas that authorize them to work for a specific employer (for example, those with an H-1B, L-1B, O, or P visa) do not need to apply for an EAD. Lawful permanent residents also do not need to apply for an EAD. The Green Card (Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card) is evidence of employment authorization.
You will need to apply for an EAD if you:
Are authorized to work in the United States because of your immigration status (for example, you are an asylee, refugee, or U nonimmigrant) and need evidence of that employment authorization, or
Are required to apply for permission to work; in other words, you need to request employment authorization itself. For example:
You have a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
You have a pending Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.
You have a nonimmigrant status that allows you to be in the United States but does not allow you to work in the United States without first seeking permission from USCIS (such as an F-1 or M-1 student).
Who are eligible for an EAD or work permit?
The following are the EAD eligibility categories indicated on the EAD. This is a listing of the specific groups of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization and the corresponding eligibility code indicated on the EAD.
(a)(2) Lawful temporary resident
(a)(4) Paroled refugee
(a)(7) N-8 or N-9
(a)(8) Citizen of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau
(a)(9) K-3 or K-4
(a)(10) Withholding of deportation or removal granted
(a)(11) Deferred Enforced Departure
(a)(12) Temporary Protected Status granted
(a)(13) Family Unity Program (Section 301 of the Immigration Act of 1990)
(a)(14) LIFE Legalization (Section 1504 of the Legal Immigrant Family Equity (LIFE) Act Amendments)
(a)(15) V visa nonimmigrant
(a)(17) Spouse of an E nonimmigrant
(a)(18) Spouse of an L nonimmigrant
(a)(19) U-1 nonimmigrant
(a)(20) U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 nonimmigrant
(c)(1) Spouse/dependent of A-1 or A-2 visa nonimmigrant
(c)(2) Spouse/dependent of Coordination Council for North American Affairs (E‑1)/ Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO)
(c)(3)(B) F-1 student, post-completion Optional Practical Training
(c)(3)(C) F-1 student, 24-month extension for STEM students
(c)(3)(ii) F-1 student, off-campus employment sponsored by a qualifying international organization
(c)(3)(iii) F-1 student, off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship
(c)(4) Spouse/dependent of G-1, G-3, or G-4
(c)(5) J-2 spouse or child of J-1 exchange visitor
(c)(6) M-1 student, Practical Training
(c)(7) Dependent of NATO-1 through NATO-6
(c)(8) Asylum application pending filed before January 4, 1995 and applicant is not in exclusion/deportation proceedings
(c)(8) Asylum application pending filed before January 4, 1995 and applicant is in exclusion/deportation proceedings
(c)(8) Asylum application under ABC Agreement
(c)(10) Suspension of deportation applicants (filed before April 1, 1997) Cancellation of Removal applicants
Cancellation applicants under NACARA
(c)(11) Public Interest parolee
(c)(12) Spouse of an E-2 CNMI investor
(c)(14) Deferred action
(c)(15) Not in use
(c)(16) Creation of record (adjustment based on continuous residence since January 1, 1972)
(c)(17)(i) B-1 domestic servant of certain nonimmigrants
(c)(17)(ii) B-1 domestic servant of certain U.S. citizens who are in the United States on a temporary basis.
(c)(17)(iii) Certain B-1 nonimmigrant employees of a foreign airline
(c)(18) Order of supervision
(c)(19) Certain pending TPS applicants whom USCIS has determined are prima facie eligible for TPS and who may then receive an EAD as a ”temporary treatment benefit” under 8 C.F.R. 244.10(a).
(c)(20) Section 210 legalization (pending I-700)
(c)(21) S visa nonimmigrant
(c)(22) Section 245A legalization (pending I-687)
(c)(23) Irish peace process (Q-2)
(c)(24) LIFE legalization
(c)(25) T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, or T-6 nonimmigrant
(c)(26) Spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant
(c)(27) Abused spouse of an A nonimmigrant
(c)(28) Abused spouse of an E-3 nonimmigrant
(c)(29) Abused spouse of a G nonimmigrant
(c)(30) Abused spouse of an H nonimmigrant
(c)(35) Principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances
(c)(36) Spouse or unmarried child of a principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances
How do I apply for an EAD or work permit?
To request an EAD, you must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. On July 16, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for processing EAD applications, updated the Form I-765. The revisions apply to 1) Applicants with Pending Asylum Applications - Eligibility Category: (c)(8); 2) Applicants with an Approved Employment-based Immigrant Petition but there are no visas available - Eligibility Category: (c)(35); and 3) Applicants who qualifying dependent spouses and children of a principal beneficiary granted employment authorization under category (c)(35) - Eligibility Category (c)(36).
What is the EAD/AP Combo Card?
The EAD/Advance Parole Combo Card is a single card issued for certain applicants filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485. It looks similar to the EAD but will include text that reads, "Serves as I-512 Advance Parole". A card with this text will serve as both an employment authorization and Advance Parole document. Employers may accept this card as a List A document when completing the Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9.
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