Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is a work authorization document that allows an individual (alien) legal right to work in United States without a work visa like H-1B or L-1. EAD is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS and is issued for a specific period of time based on alien's immigration situation. Generally it is issued for a validity period of one or two years. An individual possessing EAD can work for any employer in the United States, care must be taken by the individual to keep his or her immigration status. EAD just provides an authorization to work and is not a valid document for travel purpose. Individual should possess appropriate travel document (like Advance Parole or any valid non-immigrant visa) for reentry into United States.
Who is Eligible for EAD?
Some of the categories that provides an alien the right to work (Eligibility for EAD) in United States includes individuals who filed for Adjustment of Status (I-485), international students seeking Optional Practical Training - OPT, refugees and asylum seekers and dependents of non-immigrant visa holders like L-1, J-1, E-1, E-2. A detailed list of categories eligible for EAD can be found in the I-765 Instructions.
How to apply for EAD?
An individual can file for Application for Employment Authorization, by mailing a completed - Form I-765 along with the required documents to USCIS regional service center listed in I-765 Instructions. Application for Employment Authorization can also be done through e-filing
It can take at least 90 days and frequently up to 120 days to obtain EAD. It is important that you apply for the authorization at the earliest possible date. EAD renewals can be filed 120 days before the expiry date of the current EAD. The application processing status can be monitored through the USCIS online case status service or by calling the USCIS customer service center. If the EAD application is not processed within 90 days, the individual can take an Infopass appointment and schedule a service request at the local USCIS service center.
Download Form I-765
Download I-765 Instructions
USCIS online case status service
Sample Unofficial E-filing Instructions
EAD E-Filing Experience