Passport & Consular Services

What is an Employment Authorization Document?

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also known as a work permit, is a document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows an individual to legally work in the United States for a specified period of time. It serves as evidence of an individual’s eligibility to work and is separate from a visa or a green card.

Here are some key points to understand about an Employment Authorization Document:

Purpose: An EAD is issued to individuals who are authorized to work in the United States based on their immigration status or eligibility under certain categories. It allows them to accept employment with any employer in the United States, as long as the work falls within the specified authorization.

Eligibility: Eligibility for an EAD can vary depending on the specific immigration category or program. Some common categories that may qualify for an EAD include asylum seekers, certain temporary visa holders, adjustment of status applicants, and spouses of certain visa holders.

Application process: To obtain an EAD, an individual generally needs to file an application with the USCIS. The specific form to be filed depends on the eligibility category. Typically, the applicant needs to provide supporting documents, such as proof of eligibility, identity documents, and any required fees.

Validity period: The EAD is typically issued for a specific duration, which can vary depending on the individual’s immigration status or eligibility category. It is important to note that the EAD is generally temporary and needs to be renewed if the individual wishes to continue working legally in the United States beyond its expiration date.

Restrictions: While an EAD allows an individual to work in the United States, it may come with certain restrictions or limitations. For example, some EADs may be tied to a specific employer or occupation, while others may provide more flexibility. It is essential to review the terms and conditions specific to the EAD received.

Employment verification: Employers are required to verify the employment eligibility of their employees using the Form I-9, which includes examining and recording information from the employee’s EAD along with other identification documents.

It’s important to note that an EAD is distinct from a visa or a green card, as it specifically grants work authorization but does not confer immigration status or provide a path to permanent residency. Individuals interested in becoming permanent residents or obtaining long-term work authorization may need to explore other avenues, such as obtaining a visa that allows for employment or pursuing a green card through employment sponsorship or family-based immigration.

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