Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

What is an EAD?

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ANSWER: 

What is an EAD?  

Certain aliens who are temporarily in the United States may file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which authorizes them to work legally in the U.S. during the time the EAD is valid.  

Why does my new EAD look different than my prior one 

USCIS has enhanced the EAD with new security features to reduce fraud. This is part of USCIS’s ongoing efforts to improve the integrity of the 
immigration process. USCIS will replace EADs already in circulation with the new security enhanced EADs as individuals apply for the renewal or 
replacement of their current EAD.  

How do I know if I can get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)? 

Whether you can obtain, or even if you need, an EAD depends upon what status you have in the United States or, many times, if you have filed or 
are filing for certain other benefits. 

 • If you are in, or want to be in, a valid nonimmigrant category, including a NATO category

• If you are an asylee or refugee

• If you have, or are filing for, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) 

• If you are filing a Form I-485, Application for Permanent Resident Status, you can apply for employment authorization at the same time you file your I-485 or at any time while your I-485 is pending. 

• If you are filing, or have filed for political asylum on Form I-589

• You may also be able to apply for employment authorization if: 

o You have been granted deferred action by USCIS or ICE, 

o You have been granted voluntary return under the Family Unity program, or 

o You are under an order of supervision issued after receiving a final order of deportation or removal from an immigration court.  

How do I apply for an Employment Authorization Document?  

To apply for an Employment Authorization Document, use USCIS Form I-765 

When should I file for an extension of my employment authorization?  

You should not file more than 120 days before the expiration date shown on your current employment authorization document; however, you 
should file 90 days before the expiration date.   

How do I get the Form I-765 "Application for Employment Authorization” (EAD)?  

The Form I-765 can be obtained by downloading it from the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov 
 Note: E- filing may also be available on certain categories on the I-765. 

Under the “I am applying for” area of the form, there are three different blocks. Which one should I check?  

• Initial EAD (this is your first application under a specific category), 

• A Renewal EAD (an extension of previously granted employment authorization), or 

• A Replacement EAD (to replace a lost, mutilated, or destroyed EAD, or to update information, such as a name change on the EAD),  

Initial EAD  

An application for an initial EAD is one in which the applicant is filing for an EAD under a specific category for the first time. For example, if the 
applicant previously had an EAD under the Form I-765(c)(8) category and is now filing under the (a)(5) category, the application is considered an initial application because it is the first one filed under the new category (a)(5), even though they had been issued a previous card under a different category. Each applicant who is required to have an EAD must have it in their possession before they can begin working.  

Renewal EAD  

An application for a renewal EAD is one in which the applicant is filing for an extension of his/her EAD under the same category as he or she 
previously had. Except for applicants in refugee or asylee status, each person must have a valid card in their possession to be eligible to continue working. Therefore, it is important to stress that renewal EADs should be filed at least 90 days before the expiration of the old EAD in order to avoid lapses in employment. 

 Replacement EAD  

An application for a replacement EAD is filed if a card has been lost, stolen, or mutilated, or when the previously issued card contains 
erroneous information, such as a misspelled name or name change. If an application for a replacement EAD is approved, the replacement  EAD will have the same dates and category as the EAD that was lost, stolen, etc.  

Persons applying for replacement documents can present the receipt for the I-765 as evidence of employment eligibility but must produce a
valid card within 90 days of showing the receipt.  

For question 16, how do I know for which category I should apply?  

• If you are filing for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, file under category (c)(33) 

• If you are an asylee, file under category (a)(5) 

• If you are a refugee, file under category (a)(3) 

• If you were paroled as a refugee, file under category (a)(4) 

• If you were paroled in the public interest, file under category (c)(11). 

• If you are filing for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), file under category (c)(19) 

• If you have been granted TPS, file under category (a)(12). 

• If you are filing a Form I-485, Application for Permanent Resident Status, file your I-765 under category (c)(9). 

• If you are filing, or have filed for political asylum on Form I-589, please refer to Volume 4.4.3.5, Special Programs and Services before 

filing. If it appears you can file for employment authorization, file under category (c)(8). 

• You may also be able to apply for employment authorization if: 

o You have been granted deferred action by USCIS or ICE, file under category (c)(14) 

o You have been granted voluntary return under the LIFE Act Family Unity program, file under category (a)(14) 

o You are under an order of supervision issued after receiving a final order of deportation or removal from an immigration court, file 

under category (c)(18) 

o You have been granted withholding of deportation by an Immigration Court, file under category (a)(10)  

For other categories, please follow the instructions to Form I-765.  

Note: E- filing may also be available on certain categories on the I-765. 

Do I have to submit photos with the Form I-765?  

Yes, you must submit two standard passport-style photos. The photos must have been taken no earlier than 30 days prior to the date you file the
I-765. Please see the Form I-765 for the required specifications for the photos.  

Do I need to submit a “signature card,” I-765A, with my I-765 application?  

No, the signature card is no longer required as part of the filing process. 

How long does USCIS have to make a decision on my Application for Employment Authorization?  

The required times in which USCIS must make a decision on an I-765 are:  

• Ninety (90) days of receipt of applications filed under categories other than asylum-based, or  

• Thirty (30) days if filing based upon a pending asylum case and filing for an initial EAD,  

One exception to this rule is if USCIS requires additional evidence. The processing time limit is extended by the amount of time it takes for you to receive the request for evidence and respond to it. Also, the processing time is extended when a request for evidence is issued for any Form filed concurrently with the I-765.  

If USCIS has to send out a Request for Evidence, the processing “clock” stops. The maximum allowed time to submit evidence is 12-weeks. Once USCIS receives your response, the processing “clock” starts up again.  

When am I eligible for an Interim EAD? 

If USCIS does not make a decision on your I-765 within 90 days, (30 days for Asylum applicants), you may request an Interim EAD. The interim EAD can be granted for a period up to 240 days.  

Note: If the time frame for a decision on the I-765 has expired, please call our toll-free number at 1-800-375-5283.  

My I-765 was approved, but I have not received my EAD. Can I get temporary evidence of employment authorization?  

Customers who have an approved (or denied) I-765 are not eligible for an interim EAD.  

Note: If your I-765 was approved at a Service Center, but you have not received the EAD 30 days or more from the date of approval, you may be eligible for a Non-Delivery of Employment Authorization Document service request referral to the Service Center. Please call our toll-free number at 1-800-375-5283 for further assistance with this issue. 

 Can I get a Social Security card after I get my EAD?  

In most cases, you can apply for a Social Security card after you receive an employment authorization document. You will need another type of officially issued photo identification, a passport, I-94 bearing a stamp of refugee or asylee status and/ or driver’s license.  

For more information about how to apply for a Social Security card, please call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.  

What if my EAD has incorrect information on it when I receive it?  

For help with this question, please call our toll-free number: 1-800-375-5283.  

Who is eligible for an EAD that is valid for two years?  

The two-year EAD is only available to pending adjustment applicants who are currently unable to adjust status because an immigrant visa numberis not currently available. In order to be eligible for an EAD with a two year validity period, an applicant’s I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, must be approved. 

 When will applicants expect to receive the new two-year EAD?  

Applicants filing Form I-765 began receiving their two-year EAD after June 30, 2008. 

Will applicants get a two-year EAD when they file an I-765 with their I-485 adjustment of status application?  

Generally, no. Initial EAD filings will generally receive an EAD that is valid for one year because they are usually submitted with the Form I-485 which can only be filed when there is an immigrant visa number immediately available to the individual. Applicants are only eligible for a two-year EAD if their immigrant visa availability date retrogresses (i.e., when actual demand for visa numbers exceeds forecasted supply) after the Form I-485 is filed. If an immigrant visa number is available, USCIS will grant the one-year EAD.  

How will USCIS decide whether to issue an EAD valid for one or two years?  

USCIS will decide whether to renew an EAD for either a one or two-year validity period based on the most recent Department of State Visa Bulletin. If an applicant’s visa number has retrogressed and is unavailable, USCIS may issue a renewal EAD valid for two years. USCIS will continue to issue the EAD in one-year increments when the Department of State Visa Bulletin shows an employment-based preference category is current as a whole or the applicant’s priority date is current.  

If I am filing for a replacement EAD, how long is the EAD valid?  

If an individual requests to replace an EAD that has not expired, USCIS will issue a replacement EAD that is valid through the same date as the previously issued EAD. However, if the previous EAD has expired, USCIS will process the request for a renewal EAD and determine the appropriate validity period based on the Department of State Visa Bulletin and the applicant’s priority date.  

Why is USCIS changing the validity period for some EADs?  

USCIS views this change as a way to better serve its customer base, and in particular, persons who are waiting to become lawful permanent residents and are impacted by the lack of immigrant visa numbers. 

 When I file Form I-765, how long will it take to receive a decision?  

You should receive a decision within 90 days (30 days for Asylum applicants) from the receipt date on your Form I-765. In some cases, an EOIR- granted asylee will receive an EAD card valid for 2 years by mail within 7 to 10 days from the day the biometrics information is received. 

Note: If you have not received a decision and over 75 days (25 days for Asylum applicants) has passed, please call our toll-free number at 1-800-375-5283 for further assistance with this issue.  

Will the new EAD affect my current valid EAD card?  

No, it does not affect your current valid EAD card and you do need to file for a new card before your current card expires.  

Why USCIS redesigned the Employment card?  

The new features of the EAD will better equip workers, employers and law enforcement officials to recognize the card as definitive proof of authorization to work in the United States.  

For more information about  EAD please visit our Blog and Podcasts and Video sections. 

Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments and blog on immigration.com

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