If you’re applying for lawful permanent residency in the U.S. based on marriage, you can request an immigration work permit while you wait for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to process your paperwork. Rather than put your immigration status at risk, it’s always best to obtain this document, sometimes called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), before you start working.
Below, we explain the essentials of immigration work permits and how we can help our clients get this important documentation. To learn more, contact Solano Law Firm today.
Who Needs an Immigration Work Permit?
If you’re a foreign national, you must have a visa or immigration work permit to work legally within the United States. USCIS and ICE strictly enforce U.S. immigration laws, and undocumented workers risk deportation, immigration bars, and other penalties if they violate the rules.
While the process for obtaining an employment-based or immigrant visa can be incredibly complicated, if you’re eligible for an immigration work permit, it’s not hard to get one. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, an asylee, have temporary protected status (TPS), a spouse of a visa holder, or meet other USCIS criteria, you may be eligible for a work permit. To fully assess your eligibility, contact an experienced immigration lawyer at Solano Law Firm.
How Do I Apply for One?
To request an EAD or immigration work permit, you’ll need to submit a series of forms, including Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). If you’re submitting your work permit application at the same time as your application for adjustment of status, you simply must file Form I-765 along with a series of documents that may include:
- Two passport photos
- A copy of your birth certificate
- A copy of a government-issued photo identification card
- Copies of both your U.S. visa and your passport photo page
- A copy of your I-94 travel record
- Copies of any past U.S. work permits you’ve had
- A copy of the USCIS letter of acknowledgement, confirming that you filed a specific application that makes you eligible for the work permit
However, you can also submit your EAD application later on and not at the same time as your adjustment of status. In that case, you’ll need to pay an additional filing fee and provide additional information about your pending green card application. If you have questions about the application process or need help compiling your supporting documents, it’s in your best interest to consult with an immigration lawyer.
Once USCIS receives your application and all of your documentation, it will review it and determine whether you are eligible for an immigration work permit. Typically, this process takes between 6 to 8 months, depending on USCIS backlogs.
Why Are Immigration Work Permits Denied?
While many work permit applications are approved, a single error or mistake can lead to a denial. Common reasons for a denied immigration work permit application include:
- Failing to provide all of the necessary documents and evidence
- Inconsistencies or errors on your application
- Failing to sign necessary documents and forms
- Failure to meet the program’s eligibility requirements
Again, if you’re unsure about the application process or are worried that you’ll make mistakes, an immigration lawyer can help you navigate the process, double-check your paperwork, and compile all of your documents.
Now That I Have My Permit, What Do I Do Next?
If you’ve already been working legally in the United States, all you’ll need to do is provide your current employer with information about your new EAD. However, if you’ve never worked in the U.S., you’ll need to take a couple of steps before you can start working.
First, if you did not request a Social Security number on your USCIS Form I-765, you’ll need to go to a nearby Social Security Administration office and apply for a number. You’ll need to provide Social Security with your passport, work permit, and they will then mail you a Social Security card.
Next, your employer will ask you to complete an I-9 and provide them with documentation of your immigration status. Notably, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against both job applicants and workers due to their national origin or immigration status — as long as you have a valid Social Security number and work permit.
You’ll also have to pay state and federal income taxes, so you should also plan on completing tax forms about payroll deductions and other issues. (Remember that if you don’t pay these taxes, you may endanger your chances of becoming a U.S. citizen.)
How Do I Renew My Work Permit?
Work permits do expire — and if you forget to renew your EAD, you’re considered undocumented. To avoid this potentially catastrophic mistake, you should apply for an immigration work permit renewal sooner than later. Under U.S. immigration laws, you can submit your renewal up to four months before your existing work permit expires.
Even if you think you’ll receive your green card before your current EAD expires, it’s best to file a renewal. If anything is delayed, and your work permit expires, you may endanger your green card application if you continue working. Typically, it takes about 150 days to process an immigration work permit renewal.
Explore Your Immigration Work Permit Options
If you or a loved one would like to apply for an immigration work permit, or have other questions about your immigration options, the experienced attorneys at Solano Law Firm would love to hear from you. Our team assists immigrants, employers, and others with the complex immigration needs, helping their clients achieve their goals and complete their immigration journeys. To learn more, contact us today. All initial evaluations are free and confidential.