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What is an Employment Authorization Document?

Jodee Redmond
Jodee Redmond

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is also known as a work permit. It gives an individual the right to work legally in the United States. The EAD is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The EAD is a plastic card that is approximately the same size as a credit card. Along with the bearer's name, the card indicates his or her date of birth, gender and immigrant category. The person's country of origin and alien registration number is also listed. Any restrictions or conditions on the terms of the EAD are included, along with the expiration date. The EAD card has the individual's photo on it as well.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Employers in the United States check to ensure that anyone they are hiring is legally authorized to work in the country. A person who is not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident will need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document before being able to work legally. Examples of individuals who may be eligible to obtain an EAD are students who want to work while in the country, a person who is either married or engaged to a U.S. citizen or an individual who has applied for permanent resident status that has not yet been granted.

Those seeking asylum in the United States may apply for an Employment Authorization Document, but there may be a waiting period involved. If a decision has been made granting asylum, the person can apply for an EAD immediately. In a case where 150 days have passed from the date of the application and no decision has been made, the applicant for asylum can submit the paperwork for an EAD.

An application for an Employment Authorization Document can be obtained from the USCIS. Once the application has been completed, it is returned to the USCIS with the required filing fee for processing.

A person who is unable to pay the application fee can apply for a waiver. If the USCIS is satisfied, based on the information provided, that the applicant does not have the means to pay, his or her application will be processed without it. Being turned down for the fee waiver means the applicant for an EAD card must start the process and file his or her application again.

Applicants for an Employment Authorization card may file the papers themselves or have a licensed attorney do so for them. If an attorney is acting for the applicant, the USCIS must be formally advised by having the lawyer file a Notice of Appearance on behalf of the client. The USCIS accepts documents filed electronically or on paper from individuals or their legal representatives.

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