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Employment Authorization Document

U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. If you are not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you may fall into one of three categories of persons who are eligible for employment authorization.

  • Category 1: You may have authorization to work in the United States as a result of your nonimmigrant status
  • Category 2: You may have authorization to work for a specific employer as a result of your nonimmigrant status
  • Category 3: You may be in a category which requires you to file for permission to work

Some of those that fall in the first and third categories (including those who have a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) are required to apply for work authorization and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization prior to seeking work in the United States. The EAD is the proof that you will show to your employer that you are allowed to work in the United States. In most cases, EADs are granted for a 1 year period.

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 still eligible for work authorization but your EAD has expired, you should file for a renewal EAD by submitting a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. You cannot file for a renewal EAD more than 120 days before your original EAD expires.

Replacement EAD

If the card issued to you contains incorrect information that is not attributed to USCIS error, a new Form I-765 and filing fee are required as well as any documents specified in the form instructions. The Form I-765 must be accompanied by the card containing the error.

If the card issued to you contains incorrect information due to an error made by USCIS, the appropriate correction will be made. In these cases, a new Form I-765 and filing fee are not required. Instead, you must submit the original card along with a detailed explanation of the card error and supporting documentation on the correct information to the Service Center or National Benefit Center that approved your last employment authorization request.

In either case, if an application for a replacement card is received and the applicant no longer has any basis for applying for employment authorization, the card submitted with the application will not be returned and the applicant will be advised that they do not have a current basis for applying for employment authorization.

If your EAD is lost, stolen or destroyed, it may be replaced by filing a new Form I-765 and filing fee, unless a fee waiver is requested and approved. However, dependents of certain foreign governments, international organizations, and NATO personnel are not required to pay a fee for a replacement EAD. 

Eligibility Categories for the Form I-765

Please see the Form I-765 instructions for a complete list of eligibility categories.  You may also find eligibility categories in section 274a.12, title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 10/25/2011