One of the most common ways an immigrant will obtain a work permit is through applying for the EAD while their I-485 adjustment of status is processing. Most applicants will be aware that it will take at least 9-12 months for the USCIS to ultimately decide on their green card case, and in the meantime most immigrants need a secondary option to legally work and bring in money while they live in the United States. However, not only green card applicants will be able to receive work permits. There are a host of other immigrant statuses, non-immigrants, and other classes of non-citizens that will be able to apply for a work permit in the U.S.
This blog will help demystify this process a bit by providing key information about who is eligible for a work permit.
1. Spouses in several different categories can file for a work permit.
If you are living with your spouse who is currently on an H1-B visa in the United States, you are eligible for a work permit and don’t have to wait to work legally via a green card. In addition, you can apply for a work permit if your spouse is currently on a temporary investor visa, or if your spouse is working in a diplomatic capacity. This usually involves spouses who are employed with an international organization in the field of trade and economics, human rights, and the environment.
In addition, some minors (those who haven’t reached the age of 21 yet) can apply for working authorization in the U.S. if their parent(s) are diplomatic employees.
2. Your work permit will only be valid for 12 months (one year).
Another important consideration for those interested in working in the U.S. is that your work permit being issued will only last for one year. While this might seem like a long time, it is a good idea to have options or to plan what you are going to do next as working on an expired work permit can result in severe immigration penalties such as fines or possibly being put into removal proceedings if the individual is doing it for long enough. Generally the USCIS recommends that you apply for a renewal to your work permit several months before your current one expires.
3. Valid ID or Travel Card?
Your employment authorization document should not be used as an alternative for an ID. You should know that if you decide to travel domestically and are asked for your ID, the work permit will not suffice as a source of identification and you will need either your drivers license or another form of ID, such as a passport. In addition, work permits should also not be used in the event of international travel. If you are planning on travelling before being issued a green card, you’ll need an advance parole document.