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Employment Authorization Documents

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is widely known as a “work permit”, issued by USCIS to provide its holder a legal right to work in the United States for a period of time, usually for a year.

This is quite similar to green card, but must not be confused with a green card. This is in a form of a laminated card with the individual’s name and photo and expiration date. If you are holding an EAD, you may legally work in the United States for any employer until the expiration date expires.

The EAD or work permit is usually valid for one year. After that one must apply for a renewal EAD. It is recommended that you apply six months before the date your current EAD is scheduled to expire.


Employment Authorization DocumentsThe categories eligible to obtain Employment Authorization includes the following:

  • F-1 student seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) in an occupation directly related to her studies. After having been enrolled full-time in an approved school for at least nine months, alien students are eligible to apply for an EAD
  • F-1 students offered off-campus employment under the sponsorship of a qualifying international organization.
  • F-1 student seeking off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship. Alien applicants must submit any evidence, such as affidavits, which detail the unforeseen economic circumstances that caused the request, as well as evidence that the applicants have tried to find off-campus employment with an employer who has filed a labor and wage attestation.
  • J-2 spouse or minor child of an exchange visitor. Applicants must submit a written statement, with supporting evidence, showing that the employment is not necessary to support the J-1, but is for another purpose.
  • Adjustment Applicants. After or at the time an alien files for adjustment of status (I-485), the alien applicants may file an EAD application.
  • M-1 students seeking practical training after completing their studies.
  • K-1 Non-immigrant Fiancé (e) of a US Citizen or a K-2 Dependent. Applicants can file an EAD application within 90 days from the date of entry.
  • Family Unity Program beneficiaries. If aliens have been granted status under this program, they may file an EAD application with a copy of the approval letter.
  • L-2 visa holders.
  • Asylees (granted asylum).
  • Asylum applicants (with a pending asylum application) who filed for asylum on or after January 4, 1995. If the applicant filed a Request for Asylum and for Withholding of Deportation on or after January 4, 1995, he/she must wait at least 150 days before he/she is eligible to apply for an EAD.
  • Refugees.
  • Those Paroled as a Refugee.
  • Those qualified to participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted on June 15, 2012.

To Apply:

  • Visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website and download the I-765 application for employment authorization and the I-765 instruction guide for filling out the form. Those without a computer or Internet access, will need to visit a local library to gain access to both, as the Department of Immigration does not send out forms upon request. The form consists of one page; applicants are required to print and fill out the complete form.
  • Read the instruction guide entirely before attempting to fill out the application form. Be sure you fall under one of the eligible categories before applying. Only those individuals who fall into eligible categories will receive consideration for employment authorization. In addition, each category will have different documentation requirements. Ensure you know which documents should accompany your application and where to get those documents if they are not on hand.
  • Fill out the I-765 after understanding the requirements listed in the instruction guide. Expect the entire process of reading the instruction guide, collecting documentation, and filling out the form to take approximately three and a half hours, according the USCIS. Ensure when filling out the form that you are providing accurate information. Any form filed with inaccurate information will be rejected with a request to resubmit the form in its entirety.
  • File the form with the USCIS according the instruction manual. Depending on your location and the category in which you are applying, this may involve filing electronically, sending via postal mail or dropping the form at a lock box. Applicants must follow exactly the instructions provided according to location and category. Failure to do so may result in delays or the outright rejection of the application. Be sure to enclose the $340.00 filing fee, if required for your filing category, and all documentation required by your filing category. The approval process takes up to 90 days; applicants will receive a decision by either mail or a letter indicating a required visit to a United States Immigration office.

Note:To check the status of your application, please contact the USCIS office that received your application. You should be prepared to provide the USCIS staff with specific information about your application.

Interim EAD

If the application for the Employment Authorization Document is neither approved nor denied by the USCIS within 90 days (within 30 days for an asylum applicant), the applicant may request an interim EAD.

The applicant may inquire about a temporary EAD at a local USCIS office. The interim EAD request should be made by scheduling an appointment with the local USCIS office, bringing along some proofs of identity and any document that the USCIS has send the applicant in regards to the EAD application.

Appeal on Application

Applications for EAD may be denied. In this case, the applicant will receive a letter with the reasons why the application was denied. While the alien may not appeal the denial to a higher authority, he/she may submit a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider with the office that made the decision.

In filing these motions, the applicant may request the office to reconsider or re-examine its decision. The applicant must also state new facts in the motion to reopen, that are to be reopened in the proceeding, accompanied by documentary evidence or affidavits.

Likewise, the application must also establish in the motion that the denial was based on an incorrect application of law or policy, and prove that the decision was incorrect based on the evidence in file at the time the decision was made.

The Differences Between Employment Authorization Document and H-1B

  1. As to Eligibility: EAD applicants are non-resident aliens currently living in the U.S., while H-1B applicants are Individuals with bachelor’s or 12 years work experience in specialized knowledge, or combinations of education & experience, who hold job offers from US companies.
  2. As to Work Restrictions: EAD holders may take any job in the U.S., while H-1B holders can only work for sponsoring institution in a specialty field.
  3. As to Validity: EAD is issued only for a specific period of time based on immigration status while H-1B is issued for 3 years, but can be extended up to 6 years.
  4. As to Application Process: EAD may be obtained by filing a Form I-765 (application for employment authorization) with the USCIS, while for H-1B, sponsoring company must submit Form I-129 (petition for a non-immigrant worker) to USCIS.

EAD and Labor Certification

It is important to note that an Employment Authorization Document and Labor Certification are two independent concepts.

To begin with, a Labor Certificate is a document issued by the Department of Labor, as a prerequisite for an immigration petition for some employment-based visa categories.

This process involves a US employer seeking a Labor Certification from the DOL for the benefit of the alien employee, where the US employer is the petitioner and the alien employee is the beneficiary. ALabor Certificate does not grant an alien the right to work in the U.S., while an EAD does.

Labor Certification only shows that there are insufficient US workers to fill a position in the US, and thus the green card process can continue. Labor Certification allows an alien worker to eventually gain permanent resident status, but does not confer the right to work by itself.

On the other hand, the EAD is a work permit for some eligible aliens issued by the USCIS. In the application process for an EAD, the alien is the applicant as well as the beneficiary. Furthermore, the EAD is not specific for a particular employer only; thus, the holder of an EAD can work for any employer in the U.S.

You Need an Immigration Lawyer for Your Employment Authorization Documents

Successful adjudication of your immigration petitions and cases through the numerous deadlines, intricate requirements, and complex processes could be extremely difficult if you do not have an immigration lawyer.

With immigration laws constantly changing, understanding what is required and when is very difficult to understand; thus, calling for the assistance of experienced immigration lawyer.

At The Gambacorta Law Office, we can help you through the preparation of your petitions and applications, coach you for your USCIS interview, and clear out issues on your green card, visas, and many others.

We provide exceptional and dedicated representation in various areas of immigration laws. From green-cards, visas, to adjustment of status and everything else in between, we are here to help. We thoroughly prepare your immigration case, working with you on the basis of honest and clear communication every step of the way.