Foreign nationals who desire to work in the United States can only do so if they have received a work permit and meet other terms based on their visa or legal status. For the most part, a work permit or Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is an identity card issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The permit is proof that an individual has the right to work and is an essential document that must be presented to an employer when seeking employment. Employers that hire employees who do not have a work permit are liable to be punished.

According to immigration lawyers who can be found here, there are several cases where a work permit is not required. Green card holders do not need to apply for a work permit since they automatically have the right to work. Those who acquire US citizenship or naturalization also do not need a work permit. In addition, foreign nationals who obtain work visas through their US employers, such as an H-1B or L-1 visa, are eligible to work without having to apply separately for a work permit.

Eligibility for a work permit

There are many other classes of individuals who must apply for a work permit from the USCIS. This includes individuals who are spouses of visa holders, those whose application for a green card is pending, F-1 students that seek OPT or optional practical training and K-1 visa holders, to name a few. People with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are also required to apply for a special work permit.

The entire list of categories is available on the application form USCIS Form I-765. According to immigration attorneys, tourists cannot be granted a work permit and anyone found doing so is liable to be punished along with their employer.

Applying for a work permit

Applications for a work permit must be made through USCIS Form I-765 which is available on the federal agency’s website. It is important to attach all supporting documentation and submit the application by mail to the USCIS. Immigration lawyers stress the importance of answering question 16 on the form very carefully.

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Applicants must pick the right eligibility category and attach a copy of the document that proves their status. Only those who are applying for a permit at the same time as that for adjustment of status or TPS do not require to submit any proof of eligibility. The current filing fee is $380 although it is prudent to check with the USCIS website for any change in fee.

Include all forms

USCIS Form I-765 can be submitted by mail along with the fee sent by check or money order. On the other hand, you can apply online (e-filing) and pay by credit card, debit card, or e-transfer from your checking account. Make sure to upload all supporting documents so that your application is not rejected in the first stage. It is also recommended that you maintain copies of everything including the check prior to sending your application.

If you have any questions about work permits, the application process, visas, or your right to work in the US, make sure to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer. Immigration law is complex and it takes impressive and acute legal help to be able to make sure you start right out of the gate.