All employers in the United States are required to ensure their employees are authorized to work in the U.S. Certain foreign nationals who are eligible to work may request an employment authorization document (EAD) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Having one of these documents proves work eligibility in the United States, and it also helps protect the employer from liability and any legal consequences of employing undocumented workers.

What Types of Employment Authorization Documents Are Available?

There are three types of employment authorization documents available from the USCIS:

  • Initial EAD: File Form I-765 if you are eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Renewal EAD: If you are still eligible for employment authorization, but your EAD is soon expiring, you should file a new Form I-765
  • Replacement EAD: If your EAD is lost, stolen, or destroyed, you may request a new one by filing a new Form I-765

The 90-day timeframe for adjudication of EAD applications has stopped, which means it is imperative to file EAD applications early. Most applications can be filed as early as 180 days prior to the expiration date of a current EAD card. The USCIS is also no longer required to issue interim EAD cards if it does not adjudicate an application within 90 days.

Who Qualifies for an Employment Authorization Document?

To request an EAD, you must first file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. In order to apply for an EAD, you are:

  • Authorized to work in the United States because of your immigration status. For instance, if you are a refugee, an asylee, or U nonimmigrant, you will need evidence of your employment authorization; or
  • Required to get the employment authorization itself for your job. You may fit in this category if you have a pending Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), a pending Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal), or you have a nonimmigrant status that allows you to be in the U.S., but work authorization is needed from the USCIS.

Students seeking particular employment, and people who are engaged to marry American citizens will also need an employment authorization document.

What If My Application for an Employment Authorization Document is Denied?

There are a number of reasons as to why an EAD is denied. If your application for an employment authorization document was denied, you are permitted to file a motion to reopen your case, or a motion to reconsider. If you file a motion to reopen, you must provide new facts and provide evidence that support those facts.

If you file a motion to reconsider, you must show that the denial was based on an incorrect application of the law or immigration policy to the facts of your case. An experienced immigration attorney can assist you in deciding how to proceed with a denied application.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have any questions related to immigration laws, you should contact a local immigration attorney. Your lawyer will advise you of your rights, and assist you in preparing your employment authorization document. In the event that your application was denied, your lawyer can also help you prepare a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider your application.