Skip to main content

Does Your Nonimmigrant Status Require an Employment Authorization Document?

U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are authorized to work in the United States. If you are not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you may still be eligible for employment authorization.
Many individuals will automatically have authorization to work in the U.S. as a result of their nonimmigrant status. Others may be in a visa category that will allow them to work only after filing for permission to do so – and are granted that permission. Some of the visa categories that require permission to work include individuals who filed for Adjustment of Status (I-485), international students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and dependents of certain nonimmigrant visa holders like L-1, J-1, E-1, E-2 and E-3 among others.
If an individual’s visa category requires employment authorization, it is unlawful to work in the United States without it. Lawful permanent residents, conditional residents or nonimmigrants authorized to work under a work authorized visa class do not need an employment authorization document.
Permission to work in the United States is granted through obtaining an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD is the proof to an employer than the employee is allowed to work in the U.S. An EAD is obtained through the filing of an I-765 form and applicable supporting documents. All EAD applications are processed through USCIS and currently take 60 to 90 days to process.
USCIS issues EADs for the following reasons:
• As proof that you are allowed to work in the United States for a specific time period or while you have a specific immigration status.
• To renew an EAD that has expired.
• To replace an EAD.
If Your EAD has Expired
If you are hold a nonimmigrant status that allows you to work with authorization, you should make sure to file for a renewal EAD at least 90 days prior the expiration of your current EAD. It is very important to remember that even though your status may be current, you cannot work without an EAD card. For example, if you are the L-2 spouse of an individual who holds L-1 status, you must make sure that you extend your L-2 status early enough to allow the 90 days processing of the new EAD. If your EAD expires before the new card is issued, you are not authorized to work in the U.S. and must immediately stop working until the new card is issued. Foreign nationals can face stiff penalties for working without proper authorization to do so.
To learn more about your ability to work in the United States or assistance with your Employment Authorization Document, please contact our office for a consultation.