Certain aliens who are temporarily in the United States may qualify for a work permit. They can request work authorization using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Once approved, these aliens will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
There is a fee of $410 for most applicants to file a Form I-765 for an initial EAD. The fee cannot be waived. But, as discussed below, some applicants do not need to pay the fee.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may also require a biometrics services fee and appointment (for fingerprints and other verification of identity).
If required, there is an additional $85 biometrics fee. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants are required to undergo biometrics.
To help you better understand I-765 applications for employment authorization, our California immigration lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. Who can request a work authorization with Form I-765?
- 1.1. Asylees / refugees and their spouses and children
- 1.2. People of certain nationalities / statuses
- 1.3. Foreign students
- 1.4. Eligible dependents of diplomatic employees
- 1.5. Employment-based nonimmigrants
- 1.6. Family-based nonimmigrants
- 1.7. EAD applicants who have filed for adjustment of status
- 1.8. Others
- 2. Who should not use Form I-765?
- 3. What additional documents need to be filed with Form I-765?
- 4. How much does it cost to file Form I-765?
- 5. How will I know whether my application has been approved?
- 6. Can I appeal if my I-765 is denied?
People in the following categories can request an EAD using Form I-765. Numbers in parentheses refer to the USCIS eligibility categories, which must be listed in response to Question 16 on the form.
People who have been granted asylum or other refugee status, along with their spouses and children, may obtain employment authorization using Form I-765.
The form must be filed no earlier than 150 days following the filing of an asylum claim. It must be accompanied by proof of refugee or asylum status, or a qualified pending asylum application.
People in the following categories are eligible to file a Form I-765:
- Citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, or Palau,
- Deferred enforced departure (DED) / extended voluntary departure,
- Temporary protected status (TPS),
- Certain NACARA Section 203 applicants, and
- Dependents of TECRO E-1 nonimmigrants with (spouses or unmarried dependent children of an E-1 employee of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office).
Some foreign students studying in the U.S. are eligible for I-765 employment authorizations. The requirements in this category are fairly technical. Please see the USCIS website for details.
People in this category include:
- F-1 student seeking optional practical training (OPT) in an occupation directly related to studies:
- (c)(3)(A)–Pre-completion optional practical training;
- (c)(3)(B)–Post-completion optional practical training;
- (c)(3)(C)–24-month extension for STEM (students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) optional practical training.
- F-1 student offered off-campus employment under the sponsorship of a qualifying international organization–(c)(3)(ii).
- F-1 student seeking off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship–(c)(3)(iii).
- J-2 spouse or minor child of an exchange visitor–(c)(5).
- M-1 student seeking practical training after completing studies–(c)(6).
The following eligible dependents of employees of diplomatic missions, international organizations, and NATO can file a Form I-765:
- Dependent of A-1 or A-2 foreign government officials–(c)(1).
- Dependent of G-1, G-3 or G-4 nonimmigrant–(c)(4)
- Dependent of NATO-1 through NATO-6–(c)(7).
For more details on NATO member embassy contacts and on documents required, visit the U.S. Department of State and look under the topic “Dependent Work Authorization.”
Questions regarding the process or document requirements can also be sent via email to [email protected].
Certain people who desire to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis (or their spouses) may be able to get an EAD with an I-765. These include:
- B-1 nonimmigrant who is the personal or domestic servant of a nonimmigrant employer–(c)(17)(i),
- B-1 nonimmigrant domestic servant of a U.S. citizen–(c)(17)(ii),
- B-1 nonimmigrant employed by a foreign airline–(c)(17)(iii),
- Spouse of an E-1/E-2 treaty trader or investor–(a)(17) or spouse of an E-3 certain specialty of occupation professional from Australia,
- Spouse of an L-1 intracompany transferee–(a)(18),
- Spouse of an E-2 CNMI investor–(c)(12),
- Spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant–(c)(26),
- Principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances–(c)(35), and
- Spouse or unmarried child of a principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition–(c)(36).
Some family members of U.S. citizens or people in family-based programs can file a Form I-765. They are:
- K-1 nonimmigrant fiance(e) of U.S. citizen or K-2 dependent–(a)(6),
- K-3 nonimmigrant spouse of U.S. Citizen or K-4 dependent–(a)(9).
- Family unity program–(a)(13),
- LIFE Act Amendments family unity –(a)(14), and
- V-1, V-2, or V-3 nonimmigrant–(a)(15).
The following people whose application for permanent residence (green card) is pending may file an I-765:
- Adjustment of status applicant–(c)(9),
- Adjustment applicant based on continuous residence since January 1, 1972–(c)(16), and
- Renewal EAD for national interest waiver physicians.
In addition to the foregoing, people in the following categories may request an EAD with a Form I-765:
- N-8 or N-9 nonimmigrants–(a)(7),
- People granted withholding of deportation or removal–(a)(10).,
- Applicants for suspension of deportation–(c)(10),
- People paroled in the public interest–(c)(11),
- Deferred action–(c)(14),
- Applicants who can establish economic necessity under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — (c)(33),
- Economic necessity after a final order of removal or deportation–(c)(18),
- LIFE legalization applicant–(c)(24),
- T-1 nonimmigrant–(a)(16),
- T-2, T-3, or T-4 nonimmigrant–(c)(25),
- U-1 nonimmigrant–(a)(19),
- U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 non-immigrants–(a)(20),
- VAWA self-petitioners–(c)(31)
Form I-765 should not be used by:
- Lawful permanent residents (green card holders),
- Conditional residents, and
- Nonimmigrants who are authorized to work for a specific employer under 8 CFR 274a.12(b).1
A petitioner who is mailing an I-765 application to USCIS must also submit one of the following:
- A copy of the most recent EAD (front and back), if applicable, or
- A copy of a government-issued identity document with a photo, name, and date of birth — such as:
- A passport,
- A birth certificate with photo ID,
- A visa issued by a foreign consulate; or
- A national ID document with photo and/ or fingerprint.
Applicants must also submit two identical 2” X 2” color photographs taken within 30 days before filing the application.
The photos must have a white to off-white background, be printed on thin paper with a glossy finish, and be unmounted and unretouched. They must be in color and have a full face, frontal view. The applicant’s head must be bare save for headwear as required by a religious order of which the applicant is a member.
The applicant’s name and Alien Receipt Number (A-number) should be lightly printed on the back of the photo using a pencil or a felt pen.
Additional requirements apply to people in the following categories:
- Asylum applicants (with a pending asylum application) who filed an initial request for asylum prior to January 4, 1995, and are in exclusion or deportation proceedings;
- Salvadorans or Guatemalans who have applied for asylum under the ABC Settlement Agreement–(c)(8); and
- Spouses of E-2 CNMI investors–(c)(12).
If you fall into one of these categories, refer to the USCIS site for details on what additional documentation is required.
The filing fee for Form I-765 is $410. However, some first-time applicants do not need to pay a fee.
People in the following categories filing the first-time application do not pay a fee:
- People paroled as a refugee;
- Applicants for asylum (except that ABC applicants must pay the fee);
- N-8 or N-9 nonimmigrants;
- Citizens of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau;
- People granted withholding of deportation;
- Victims of severe human trafficking (T-1);
- U-1 nonimmigrants;
- Dependents of foreign governments, international organizations, or NATO personnel; and
- VAWA Self-Petitioners.
USCIS may request that I-765 applicants appear at a USCIS office for an interview. The interview may include a collection of biometrics (fingerprints, photograph, and signature) at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC).
Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants must undergo biometrics. For everyone else, if biometrics are required, USCIS will send the applicant a notice. The notice will contain an ASC appointment date, time and location and a list of documents the applicant must bring to the appointment.
An applicant who fails to attend a required ASC appointment may have his or her EAD application denied.
If biometrics are required, there is a biometrics services fee of $85. This fee cannot be waived.
If the application is for a renewal EAD, people in the following categories do not need to pay a filing fee:
- Citizens of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau;
- People granted withholding of deportation;
- Dependents of certain foreign governments, international organizations, or NATO personnel; and
- Applicants for adjustment of status (filing fee required, but no biometrics services fee) who applied after July 30, 2007.
A replacement EAD may be issued to an eligible applicant whose previously issued EAD has been lost, stolen, or mutilated, or contains erroneous information, such as a misspelled name.
People in the following categories do not need to pay a filing fee for a replacement EAD:
- Some dependents of a foreign government, international organization, or NATO personnel; and
- People whose card contains incorrect information as a result of USCIS error.
If an EAD contains an error that was not the fault of USCIS, a new Form I-765 and filing fee are required.
However, if you are filing for an EAD related to an application or grant of temporary protected status, you may be eligible for a fee waiver under 8 CFR 103.7(c).
If an I-765 application is approved, the EAD will either be mailed to the applicant or the applicant may be required to visit a local USCIS office to pick it up.
If an I-765 application is denied, the applicant will receive a written notice explaining the basis of the denial.
The applicant may then file a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider the application.
It is highly recommended that applicants whose I-765 was denied hire an attorney to help them secure a favorable outcome.
Was your I-765 application denied? Call us for help…
It is possible to fight an adverse USCIS decision.
If you or someone you know has been unfairly deprived of your right to work in the United States, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
Call us or complete the form on this page to speak to a caring, knowledgeable California immigration lawyer without delay.
- This category includes (without limitation) certain foreign government officials, non-immigrant treaty traders or investors, and F-1 students seeking part-time work. See 8 CFR 274a.12(b) for details.