A worker’s permit, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), is a legal document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that grants non-U.S. citizens the right to work in the United States. It is a temporary authorization to work and is usually granted to individuals who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents but who are authorized to work in the U.S. for a specific period of time.
A work permit is different from a work visa in that a work visa is issued to foreign nationals who wish to come to the U.S. to work for a specific employer or to engage in a specific type of employment.
What Types of Employment Authorization Documents Are Available?
There are several types of Employment Authorization Documents available, depending on an individual’s immigrant or nonimmigrant status.
For example, people who have applied for asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may be eligible for a work permit.
Examples of when those who have applied for asylum, DACA, or TPS may be eligible for a work permit include:
- Asylum seekers who have filed their asylum application and have been waiting for more than 180 days for a decision may apply for a work permit.
- DACA recipients, who were brought to the U.S. as children and meet certain eligibility criteria, may apply for a work permit that is valid for two years.
- People who have been granted TPS due to a natural disaster or other extraordinary conditions in their home country may be eligible for a work permit.
- Individuals who are participating in exchange visitor programs (such as the J-1 program) may be eligible for a work permit, depending on the program they are enrolled in.
Spouses of U.S. citizens may be eligible for a work permit if they have filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and are waiting for their green card to be approved. Similarly, individuals with pending applications for adjustment of status may be eligible for a work permit while they are waiting for their green card to be processed.
Certain students may be eligible for a work permit if they are in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa and have completed at least one academic year of study. They may be eligible for a work permit if they have demonstrated severe economic hardship or if their practical training is related to their field of study.
Who Qualifies for an Employment Authorization Document?
To qualify for an Employment Authorization Document, an individual must meet certain eligibility criteria.
Generally, people who are in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, such as an F-1 student visa or an H-1B temporary worker visa, are not eligible for a work permit. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as for people who have pending adjustment of status applications or are in certain other eligible categories.
Employers who hire undocumented workers can face serious legal repercussions. The consequences of employing undocumented workers can include fines and penalties, and may even lose their business license. Employers must verify the employment eligibility of all employees and ensure that they have valid work authorization before hiring them.
Employers can verify work authorization by completing Form I-9, which is used to verify the identity and employment eligibility of new hires.
Form I-9, also known as Employment Eligibility Verification, can be found on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
To complete the Form I-9, you will need to follow these steps:
- Download and print the Form I-9 from the USCIS website.
- Provide your personal information in Section 1, including your full name, date of birth, Social Security number (optional), and immigration status (if applicable).
- Provide documentation to verify your identity and work authorization in Section 2. The form lists acceptable documents, such as a U.S. passport, a driver’s license, a Social Security card, or a Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card). You must provide original documents; photocopies are not acceptable.
- If someone else, such as a human resources representative, is completing Section 2 on your behalf, you must provide the required documents to them.
- Sign and date the form in Sections 1 and 2, as applicable.
Note that employers are required by law to complete Form I-9 for all employees hired in the United States, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after the date the employment ends, whichever is later. The form must be available for inspection by authorized government officials upon request.
Inspections of Form I-9s are conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE may initiate an inspection in several ways, such as by serving a Notice of Inspection (NOI) to the employer or by conducting an on-site inspection without prior notice.
During an inspection, ICE will review the employer’s Form I-9s to ensure that they are properly completed, retained, and updated as necessary. ICE may also review the employer’s payroll records and other documentation to verify that the company is complying with employment eligibility verification requirements.
If ICE finds that an employer has violated Form I-9 requirements, it may assess civil fines and, in some cases, pursue criminal charges. Employers may also be required to take corrective action, such as re-verifying the employment eligibility of employees or terminating unauthorized workers.
What If My Application for an Employment Authorization Document is Denied?
If your application for an EAD is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You may file an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) within 33 days of receiving the denial notice. The AAO will review your case and make a decision based on the evidence and arguments presented in your appeal.
A work visa lawyer can help you file an appeal and present your case in the strongest possible light. They can review the reasons for the denial and identify any errors or omissions in your initial application. They can also gather additional evidence and make persuasive legal arguments to support your appeal.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The U.S. immigration system can be complex and confusing, especially when it comes to obtaining work authorization. If you are seeking an Employment Authorization Document or any other type of immigration benefit, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer.
An immigration lawyer can help you understand your options, guide you through the application process, and represent you in any appeals or other legal proceedings. They can also help you avoid common mistakes that can lead to delays or denials of your application.
If you need a work visa lawyer or any other type of immigration lawyer, LegalMatch can help. LegalMatch is an online platform that connects individuals and businesses with experienced attorneys in their area. To get started, simply visit the LegalMatch website and fill out a brief questionnaire about your legal needs. LegalMatch will then match you with qualified work permit attorneys who are best suited to handle your case.