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The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to foreign nationals living in the US, who they find eligible to join the US workforce. The EAD can also be called a work permit. It is officially called Form I-766. Any foreigner owning an EAD is authorized to work in any capacity. But it is worth noting that both employers and employees can be subjected to punishment and even imprisonment if found to be engaging in any illegal employment arrangements.
Every US employer has the responsibility to demand an EAD from any prospective foreign employee. Some foreign nationals, such as permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, or those holding non-immigrant work visas, get their EAD by default. Others may have to apply for it.
Two categories of non-immigrants may have to apply for an EAD:
Here is a detailed list of individuals this may apply to:
The USCIS was considering the possibility of eliminating employment privileges for H4 visa holders, but a final decision is yet to be taken.
Currently, H4 Visa holders having an EAD have unrestricted access to job opportunities in the US. There are no requirements for specialized skills, unlike H1 visa holders. H4 visa owners with an EAD are even eligible to work as self-employed individuals.
A 2014-15 ordinance passed by the USCIS authorizes any H4 visa holder who possesses an EAD free pass to pursue employment. The only eligibility criteria include:
Upon expiry, the USCIS allows the H4 applicant to apply for an EAD extension within 180 days of the expiration date.
Also Read : All You Need to Know About H4 Visa Extension
Hopeful H4 work authorization applicants must file Form I-765: Application For Employment Authorization with the USCIS. You will also need separate supporting documentation for each of the eligibility criteria mentioned above. It is critical to prove eligibility through your documentation.
You can apply for an EAD at any time. EAD applications are processed within 60 - 90 days. You will find the download link for Form - I-765 on USCIS.gov., along with instructions for compiling and submitting your application.
Most EAD applicants will need to submit the following docs to complete their application:
This is a condensed documentation list. Every application will differ on a case-by-case basis since many categories of immigrants could be eligible for EAD.
For example, a VAWA self-petitioner must include a copy of the I-360 approval notice, among other documents. An asylum seeker must submit a copy of the court order granting asylum status (I-760). Those applying for a work permit while qualifying for immigration status will submit the I-765 with this primary application.
The USCIS usually issues the Employment Authorization Card for two years or less. The expiration date will be on the card. This is the general scenario. The validity period for an EAD is decided during the initial application, with limits set according to the kind of visa held by the individual.
For example, student visa holders are granted one-year validity to work with an EAD. On the other hand, certain categories of people, for example, those granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and certain others may have EADs automatically extended.
EAD renewals are easily done online and must be completed three months before expiration. The USCIS approves most EAD renewals. It is possible to apply for a new EAD in case yours is lost, stolen, or damaged somehow, or in case there is some incorrect information.
If you do not receive any updates on your EAD application within the 90-day (30 days for asylum seekers) period, you can apply for interim EAD.
When you need to leave the country while you have an EAD, you must apply for an Advance Parole (AP) document to re-enter the US. AP documents have a 1-year validity, which can easily be extended online.
In case you are awaiting your green card approval, you may have the choice to remain on your H1B or use your EAD to switch status. In this scenario, you can get an indefinite number of renewals as the green card application is pending.
It is a good idea to determine whether you could fulfill your work commitments in the US with an Employment Authorization Document. This is a good option to consider if you only plan to work for a while and then return to your home country, with no intent to gain a permanent residency in the US.
After you read the enclosed information, be diligent about abiding by the terms and conditions mentioned, and keep the expiry date in mind to apply for renewal on time.
Now that you have a clear idea about what's H4 EAD and its eligibility. If you need any further help or have any queries, visit TechFetch H1B.
**Disclaimer: H1B rules and regulations keep changing from time to time. For updated information, always refer to the USCIS official website.**