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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.

Replacing an EAD

A replacement EAD replaces a lost, stolen, or mutilated EAD. In addition, an EAD may be replaced without fee for USCIS error when it was issued with incorrect information, such as a misspelled name. You must file Form I-765 to replace an 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