Work Permit (EAD) and How to Apply

Updated on August 24, 2020

Many aliens want to come to the United States to work. As an alien, there are three ways to get employment authorization in the United States. One is to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR), in other words, get a green card. Another is to become a nonimmigrant temporary worker like H-1B, , L-1, O1, TN worker, etc. The third way is to get a work permit, also called Employment Authorization Document or EAD. This article focuses on work permit, including the following topics:

1. What is a work permit?

A work permit is a photo identity card issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to certain categories of aliens who are not lawful permanent residents (LPR). It is also called an Employment Authorization Document or EAD (see example below). With an EAD, an alien can work legally for a temporary period in the United States, and apply for driver license as well.

EAD card
Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

2. Who may apply for EAD?

Currently, there are total 57 categories of aliens may apply for EAD. Each category has its own eligibility and documentation requirement. The filing fee charged by USCIS and filing address for each category also has some discrepancy. 

Through DYgreencard’s online platform, we may help you apply for eight categories of EAD as follow:

EAD Category



Spouse of an E nonimmigrant (E1/E2)


Spouse of an L nonimmigrant (L2)


F-1 student, post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)


F-1 student, 24-month extension for STEM students (STEM OPT)


J-2 spouse or child of J-1 exchange visitor


Asylum application pending filed after January 4, 1995 and applicant is  or is not in exclusion/deportation proceedings


Pending adjustment of status under Section 245 of the Act


Spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant (H4)

Not sure if you’re eligible to apply for one of the above categories EAD? You can free check eligibility through DYgreencard without providing any personal information. When you’re ready to apply, DYgreencard can guide you through every milestone of the EAD application process, starting with your Form I-765 all the way to the finish line. Learn more, or get started today.

3. What documents needed to apply for EAD?

Confused about what proof of eligibility needed for the category of EAD you plan to apply for? DYgreencard’s independent immigration attorney will answer all of your questions confidentially. Moreover, DYgreencard prints out all your forms and documents, assembled precisely how USCIS prefers. We mail the whole package to your doorstep, with clear instructions on where to sign and send it to USCIS. Learn more about how we can help you, or get started today!

4. Where to file the work permit application?

You may go to the website of USCIS to check the filing address for your category at

5. What happens after filing the EAD application?

 1) I-797 receipt notice

If you file the application properly, USCIS will initially respond by mailing you a letter that confirms receipt of your application. The receipt letter is formally known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action (see example below) and arrives approximately 2-4 weeks after filing.

I-797 receipt notice for I-765 EAD application
I-797 receipt notice for I-765 application

 2) Appointment for biometrics (not required for some types of EAD application)

Approximately 3-6 weeks after filing, you will receive an appointment notice that assigns your biometrics appointment date, time and location. The location will generally be the USCIS Application Support Center nearest you. USCIS requires applicants to be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting a security clearance and criminal background check. Don’t be nervous — it is pretty common for some types of EAD application. Learn more about appointment for biometrics in our Biometrics Appointment FAQ.

 3) Request for evidence (most likely not)

If you have filed a complete application with adequate evidence, it is unlikely that you will receive a request for evidence. However, applicants that have not provided sufficient evidence will receive this request in the mail. Normally, a request for evidence is issued in 2-4 months after the filing of the application. It is important to respond to the letter with the requisite evidence and within the required time frame. If you are uncertain of the necessary action, this is a good time to contact an immigration attorney.

 4) Receive EAD

After USCIS has fully reviewed your application, USCIS will make adjudication on your application that is approved or denied. If your application is approved, your EAD card will be mailed to you. If your application is denied, USCIS will mail you a notice explaining the reasons for the denial.  For most applications, USCIS will adjudicate within 6 months from the date of filing.

6. Is EAD same as Social Security Number (SSN)? If not, how to get SSN?

EAD is different from Social Security Number (SSN).  You can apply for SSN with a valid EAD at your local Social Security office. Thanks to USCIS’s new policy, now you may apply for SSN in your I-765 application for EAD directly without visiting the local Social Security office.  So as long as your I-765 application gets approval by USCIS, you will automatically receive the SSN in the mail following the approval notice.

7. EAD is expiring or has expired, may I renew it?

As long as you are still eligible for employment authorization but your EAD will be expiring or has expired, you  can renew work permit (EAD) by submitting a new Form I-765 and filing fee (if required). Generally, you should not file for an EAD  renewal more than 180 days before your original EAD expires.

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