How to Apply for a Work Permit in USA

By Hailey Williams
Apply for a Work Permit in USA
David Lat

If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder), you will need a work permit to prove that you can legally work in the United States. The official name for a U.S. work permit is an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD. EADs are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS.) The application for an EAD is called Form I-765.

Check your eligibility. To apply for an EAD, you must fall into one of the eligible categories listed on the I-765. Some of the categories include refugees or asylum seekers, fiancés of U.S. citizens, applicants to adjust to permanent resident status and students seeking employment on campus or during optional practical training (OPT.)

Prepare supporting materials for your application. Before filing Form I-765, you'll need to gather evidence of your eligibility for a work permit. Photocopy your visa, proof of your status (such an adjustment of status approval notice or evidence of enrollment in college) and your I-94 (arrival and departure record) and entry stamp in your passport.

Fill out the I-765 application form. Get the application form direct from the USCIS web site, as forms are updated often and older forms may be out of date. You will need to supply your full name, current address, date of birth, and when and how you entered the United States. If you already have an alien registration number or Social Security number, enter it in the form.

File form I-765 and supporting documents with USCIS. Check the USCIS website to see where you should send your application. Most applicants will need to send the I-765 to their local field office. Certain applicants can file form 1-765 online using the electronic filing function on the USCIS website. You'll also need to include two recent passport-style photographs (2.5 by 2.5 inches) with your application.

Include the relevant filing fee. As of September 2009, the fee for Form I-765 was $340. Check the USCIS website at the time you file your I-765 for the most up-to-date fee schedule. If you are filing form I-765 with your I-485 (adjustment of status), you do not need to pay any additional fees. Refugees, asylum seekers, and certain other categories of immigrants also do not need to pay filing fees. You can pay your fees with a personal or cashier's check or money order made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

About the Author

Hailey Williams is a freelance writer and editor from Los Angeles, California. She has a particular interest in culture, lifestyle, health, and women's interest reporting, and her work has been published in magazines including TV Week and Sugar. She graduated from the University of Sydney.