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How Can I Get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card is provided to foreign nationals who have specific eligibility criteria and are looking to work in the United States for a fixed period (usually one year). The document “form I-766” comes in the form of an identification card also known as a work permit which contains basic information such as name; birthdate, sex, immigrant category, country of birth, photo, immigrant registration number. This card proves the holder has the right to work for any employer until the expiry date noted on the card.

The document was created as a way for those with qualifying criteria (as laid out further on in the article) to be able to work freely in the US for a fixed period of time. The document was also created to help employers to ensure that the people that they are hiring have a legal right to work in the US, saving them quite a bit of hassle.

If you are looking to get an Employment Authorization Document, then this article explains answers to the vast majority of questions that you may have about the scheme, such as how to get an EAD, the application process and the costs involved. If you need legal advice after reading the article, then please get in touch with our team of immigration solicitors, and we will be happy to help.

Who Needs an Employment Authorization Document?

The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applies to a very specific subset of people and is therefore only applicable in certain situations. Below, we have laid out those who need to apply for the scheme if they wish to work freely in the US:

  • Asylum Seekers or refugees and their dependents - their spouse and children
  • International students
  • Eligible dependents of employees from some international organizations, Diplomatic Missions, or NATO
  • Employment-based non-immigrant
  • Family-based non-immigrant
  • EAD applicant who has filed for an Adjustment of Status (you have applied for a Green Card)

It is important to ensure that you fulfil the correct criteria, and complete your application form accurately. Failure to carry out the application process correctly could cost you in the long run, and disrupt your chances of getting an EAD. If you need help with choosing a category or completing the form, then please get in touch. You may need to get legal advice from an experienced lawyer while proceeding with filling and submission of your application form.

As the EAD applies solely to those in the criteria laid out, other migrants (such as green card holders) will need to seek an alternative route to employment. If you have an immigrant visa or a green card, you will not need to apply for an EAD to work in the US.

How Do I Apply for An Employment Authorization Document?

To apply for an EAD, you will need to complete form I-766. You can download the form from the USCIS website, but please ensure that you download the form just before you fill it out, as it is regularly updated. Failure to use an up-to-date form may delay your application.

Once you have completed your form, you will need to attach documents that support your application. The documentation that you have to provide will depend on your eligibility criteria. Generally speaking, there is a lot of paperwork you will be executed to provide.

As well as the application form and the supporting documents, you need to provide your receipt for the application fee. Your application will not be processed if you fail to prove that you have paid the fees for the application and biometric processing for your EAD.

Once you are ready to file, you have two options: post everything or submit online. If you choose to post your application, you will need to ensure that you send the application to the correct address for your specific state and category. Failure to follow this will likely prevent your application from being processed. If you choose to complete the application online, you will still need to post your supporting documents to the correct address, as these cannot be filed online. If you need help with your application or supporting documents, get in touch with our immigration solicitors.

How Much Does It Cost to Apply for An Employment Authorization Document?

The filing fee for an EAD comes in two parts: $410 for the application and $85 for the biometric fee, so a total of $495 (correct as of the time of writing this article). If you are posting your application, you can pay via money order or a check. If you are applying online, you can pay through a debit or credit card. Please note that there is no cash payment option available.

While the fee is payable in most circumstances, there are exceptions:

  • Asylees and refugees
  • N-8 or N-9 non-immigrants
  • Citizens of Micronesia, Palau, or the Marshall Islands
  • Those who have gained Withholding of Deportation
  • Certain victims of Trafficking
  • U-1 Non-immigrants
  • Those whose status depends upon an international organization, foreign government, or NATO personnel
  • Applicants for Asylum
  • VAWA Self-petitioners

There are also certain circumstances in which you can apply for a fee waiver, these include:

  • Those on a means-tested benefit (such as Medicaid) or those whose partners are on a means-tested benefit
  • You are currently suffering from financial hardship
  • Your annual household income is below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

As these rules are subject to regular update, it is best to check the fees you will have to pay are correct at the time of submission.

How Long Will It Take to Receive My Employment Authorization Document?

Usually it can take anywhere from 5-7 months for an EAD to be processed. This is due to the sheer number of applications that need to be processed and how long each one takes to be analysed. For this reason, it is important that you file accurately and as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of success.

Reiss Edwards, Immigration lawyers in London, are specialists in US Immigration and Visa Applications. Our Lawyers and Solicitors can go over your application with a fine-toothed comb, ensuring that all mistakes are rectified and that your supporting documents are correct. Using our service means that your application stands the best chance of approval, and mitigates the risk of filing an incorrect application.

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