Are you Legally Authorized to work in the United States?

Patience is a Virtue

What does “are you legally authorized to work in the United States” mean?

The question “Are you authorized to work in the US” or “do you have work authorization in the US” appears in most immigrant application forms. It means whether you are legally allowed to work or have the right to work in the United States. Now, while the citizens of the United States or the permanent residents do have the legal right to work in the country for as long as they want. There are some laws applicable to the foreign nationals who want to work in the US. Here are some details on what are the various clauses and aspects in which a foreign national is legally authorized to work in the US. 

A foreign national is eligible to work in the United States if he has a valid employee authorization document (EAD) or if his immigrant visa status allows him to work.

With the strict laws in the US, not all categories of people are issued an EAD or are legally authorized to work in the United States. The individuals who are admitted in the US under the category of asylum or an asylee, people who are in the process of applying for a green card. Students who are in search of jobs, an individual who is about to get married to a US citizen. A permanent resident, H4 visa holders etc. can be issued an EAD after verification of their application or immigration status. 

The next section of this article will have more details on the various categories of individuals who are allowed to work in the US.

Who are the different tiers for foreign nationals that are legally authorized to work in the US, how can they achieve this status when it comes to “Foreign nationals permitted to work in the US”. 

As briefly mentioned above, there are various categories of foreign nationals that are permitted to work in the United States with or without a work permit.

Jobs in the US

Categories that do not need a work permit or an EAD: 

The foreign nationals who are non immigrants and have a work-based visa can work in the US without a separate work permit. This includes:

  • H1b visa holders
  • L1 visa bearers
  • E treaty visa (trader or investor) holders who are a part of an e-treaty company that invests in the US.
  • E 3 visa application to the Australian nationals.

Categories that need to apply for a employment authorization document before they start working in the US include:

  • Students with F1 visas who need to work in the US to support themselves financially. They can also obtain an EAD if they are seeking an optional training program or OPT.
  • The K1 or the fiancé visa bearers who are about to get married to a US citizen or a permanent resident.
  • The dependents of the H1b Visa who entered the US with H4 visa.
  • The dependents of the L1 visa bearer (the L2 visa holders)
  • The individuals who have applied for their adjustment of status and are waiting on the approval of their green card.
  • The people who get admission in the US under the ‘Asylum’ or the Asylee’ status.
  • The individuals who come under the category of ‘temporary protected status’ or ‘Deferred Enforced Departure’ and cannot go back to their home country due to some conflict or disaster or other issues. The people who come under this category enjoy temporary benefits provided by the government which includes work authorization as well.

Apart from these, Lets talk about students or exchange visitors who are non-citizens and are in the US temporarily. They also have the authorization to work in the US. They need to obtain a special permission from the school or other educational institution they are going to and also need an exchange visitor visa to be able to work in the United States.

How to obtain a permit to work in the US and what are the processes involved in obtaining an EAD:

The process of applying for an Employment Authorization Document is relatively simple and involves the following steps:

  1. You will have to fill up the i – 765 form which is the application for the employment authorization. This form is available on the USCIS website. There are various sections of this form include reasons for applying, personal details about you like your name, US mailing address. Your place of birth, your travel details to the US, your nationality. The countries where you have held citizenships, interpreter’s contact information and details etc.

    Most of the fields in the form are pretty straightforward. If any of the fields doesn’t apply to you just mention “not applicable”.
  2. Once you are done filling out the application form, you will need the ‘proof of eligibility’ documents to go with it. You will find the instructions and other information on the eligibility documents that you fall under in the USCIS website.
  3. Attach your photos and complete the fees payment process. The fees for application of EAD will cost you around $410 USD and $85 USD for the biometric process (if applicable).
  4. Submission of the EAD along with all the documents : You need to send your application package to the USCIS by post. There are few instructions given on the USCIS website about the mailing process and the courier which you may want to refer to before sending it out to avoid confusion.

Make sure to keep a copy of the package with you for future reference. 

Employment and USA

When is an EAD card replaced? What are the steps involved and documentation needed in replacing a person’s EAD card:

An EAD card needs to be replaced if the validity of the document expires, or it is stolen, lost or damaged. If your EAD is lost or stolen, you need to request a new one by filing a i-765. Submit all the required documents along with the fee payment. If the Current EAD is about to expire you will have to reapply for a new one by filing i – 765 at least 6 months before the expiry date.

If the employment Authorization document contains incorrect information like an incorrect name or initial or any others, you need to fill a new i – 765 form requesting for a replacement.

It will usually take about 30 to 90 days for you to get an approval for your EAD. Your Social Security Number will also be sent to you within 7-10 days after your EAD is approved. 

Sometimes the questions in the application forms can be confusing. Hopefully, with this article you now have a clear idea about what “legally authorized to work in the United States” mean. What is the process involved in applying for an EAD is an important to learn and understand. Any misinterpretation of information in the i-765 application form may result in the rejection of your application. Therefore, do not forget to fill your information correctly. Especially your full name, mailing address, eligibility, criteria and date of birth.

Path to Employment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What to answer if I am asked “are you legally authorized to work in the United States” mean?

“Are you legally authorized to work in the United States” means that whether you have the legal right to work in the US. You can answer an ‘yes’ to this question if you are a US citizen, permanent resident or have a valid EAD if you an non- immigrant.

Can I start working while waiting for SSN if I have received my EAD?

Yes, you can start working while waiting for your SSN. You will have to show a letter from the Social Security Administration to your employer proving that you have applied for your SSN and the applications in process.

Is a foreign national “legally authorized to work in the US”?

Yes, if you are a foreign national you are authorized to work in the US provided your immigrant visa status permits you to work. You need to get a work-permit or the  employment authorization document (EAD) to be able to work in the US. If you want more information about the eligibility criteria of applying for an EAD, you can read this article.

How long does it take for an EAD card to get delivered?

It takes about 7-10 days for the EAD to reach you after the approval. The entire process of the i-765 application processing and the approval of the EAD together takes about 30- 90 days depending on which category do you

What if the additional documents needed for filing i-765 are in a different language and not in English?

If your documentation is in any other language, it has to be translated in English before submitting by a translator who can certify the information as accurate and correct.

Leave a Comment