Living and working in the US as an immigrant requires that you get permission from the US government in the form of a work permit. Work permit also known as ‘Employment Authorization Document’ is issued by the US government to immigrants to allow them to work in the United States.
A work permit is sometimes confused with a work visa. While you need a visa to live in the US, you also need an additional permit to pursue a career in the U.S. With the work permit, you can search for jobs and work for any employer in the U.S. (which means that you are no restricted to work for one employer unlike the work visa). Your work permit is what you show to a prospective employer that you have been legally approved to work in the U.S.
Getting a work permit in the U.S. as an immigrant is pretty easy and straightforward – all you need to do is fill out the required form, pay the necessary fee and provide the documents involved. To start your application process, the first thing you need to find out is if you are eligible to apply for a work permit and how to start the process. This article will guide you on how to apply for a work permit and the eligibility criteria for applying.
Eligibility Requirements for Obtaining a Work Permit
Applying for a work permit can be done by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can visit the USCIS website to get the full details on the eligibility criteria to work in the U.S. Some of the eligibility criteria to get a work permit as an Immigrant in the US includes:
- DACA recipients;
- K-1 Fiance visa holders, asylees;
- Immigrants with extraordinary abilities;
- Spouses of some visa holders;
- Immigrants with adjustment of status (Green card) applications;
- Certain exchange visitors;
- Approved ‘temporary workers’;
- Immigrants with Temporary protected status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED);
- F-1 students undergoing financial hardship who want to apply for optional practical training (OPT).
You are not eligible to get a work permit if;
- You are a tourist (B-1 visa holder) and an undocumented immigrant.
It is worthy of note that you do not need to apply for a work permit if you become a US citizen.
How to Apply for US Work Permit
Getting a work permit as an immigrant in the U.S is pretty straightforward. Follow the steps below to apply for a work permit:
- To start with the application process, you need to ensure that you have an immigration status that permits you to work in the U.S. Once you are sure you have such immigration status, you can continue with the other steps of the application process.
- The next step is to fill out the USCIS Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Fill in your personal and contact details and answer a few questions pertaining to your eligibility.
- Prepare your documents. You will be required to submit a copy of:
- Your passport photo page,
- A copy of your current U.S. visa (if you are already in the U.S.),
- A copy of the front and back page of your original Form I-94 travel record or a printout of your electronic I-94 from your most recent entry into the U.S.,
- Front and back page of your previous work permits,
- A recent 2-inch-by-2-inch passport-style photo of yours,
- You may be asked to provide a copy of the ‘receipt notice you received from the U.S. Government during the time you submitted your immigrant visa application.
In a case where you have never gotten a work permit before, you will be asked to provide a copy of your birth certificate from your home country and a photo ID, a copy of the visa you received from the consulate of a country other than the U.S. and a copy another national identity document that has your photograph or your fingerprint on it. You are to submit the documents alongside your Form I-765.
- The next step of the visa application process is to pay the filing fee. The filing fee can be paid either by money order, personal check or a cashier’s check made to the U.S. Department of Homeland security.
- The last step is to submit Form I-765, your supporting documents, and pay your filing fee. The address where you can submit your application depends on your location. It is advisable to include a cover letter with your application. Visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov to know the exact location to send your application to.