Work Permit (EAD) and How to Apply

Updated on 03/12/2023

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). Work permit is also called an Employment Authorization Document or EAD (see example below). With a Work permit or an EAD, an alien can work legally for a temporary period in the United States, and apply for driver license as well.

Work Permit (EAD)
Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

2. Who may apply for a Work permit or 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’s online platform, we may help you apply for eight categories of Work permit/ 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 of Work permit or EAD? You can free check eligibility through without providing any personal information. When you’re ready to apply for Work permit, 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 about work permit or get started today.

3. What documents needed to apply for work permit or EAD?

Confused about what proof of eligibility needed for the category of work permit you plan to apply for? At, our smart software will tell you exact evidence to provide based on your own situation. Moreover, will prepare a complete work permit application which will be reviewed by an immigration lawyer. Learn more about how we can help you for getting you work permit, 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 for EAD
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 your work permit application, 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 and work permit applications. Learn more about appointment regarding work permit 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, work permit 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 work permit 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 work permit same as Social Security Number (SSN)? If not, how to get SSN?

Work permit is different from Social Security Number (SSN).  You can apply for SSN with a valid work permit at your local Social Security office. Thanks to USCIS’s new policy, now you may apply for SSN in your I-765 application for work permit 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. Work permit is expiring or has expired, may I renew it?

As long as you are still eligible for employment authorization but your work permit 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 work permit renewal more than 180 days before your original work permit expires.

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