An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is a document that grants its legal holder the right to work in the United States. It is also known as a work permit, Form I-765, or by other names, and is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is not the same thing as a green card, which related to the person’s legal immigration status in the United States.

EADs come in the form of small plastic cards similar in size to a credit card. The document (card) lists various information about its holder, including their name, contact info, category of immigration, alien registration number, expiration date, and photo identification. Holding an invalid, expired, or forged EAD card can lead to legal consequences.

Who Is Eligible to Receive an Employment Authorization Document?

Some non-resident aliens in the U.S. may be eligible to file Form I-765 to receive an EAD. Only people who fall within certain immigration categories are eligible for an EAD. There are over 40 different immigration categories that would allow a person to file for an EAD. You may need to consult with a legal professional to determine what type of options you have with your current immigration status.

Persons who are sponsored by specific U.S. employers under employment visas, such as H visas or L visas, are generally authorized to work only for that employer during their stay in the country. Their employment status is classified as “employment incident to status,” meaning that their work authorization is specifically linked to their visa category. As such, they generally do not qualify for EAD cards. These people can apply for an EAD upon adjustment of their immigration status.

How Can I Obtain an Employment Authorization Document Card?

Persons interested in obtaining an EAD card need to file USCIS Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” This can either be filed by mail or in some cases, through an electronic USCIS filing. Again, there are many different categories which allow a person to file for an EAD card, so check with an attorney or legal professional to determine what options you have.

Lastly, there are some sub-categories of Employment Authorization Document applications, including renewal EADs, replacement EADs, and interim EADs. These may be applied for depending on the applicant’s background and circumstances.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with an Employment Authorization Document?

The application process for an Employment Authorization Document is quite complex, as there are many requirements to fulfill and many different immigration categories involved. It is in your best interests to hire an immigration lawyer if you need any assistance obtaining an EAD. Also, if you have any conflicts or disputes and need to appear before an immigration board, your lawyer can represent you in immigration court as well.