Who qualifies for the I-601A provisional waiver?

Who qualifies for the I-601A provisional waiver?

The provisional unlawful presence waiver is better known as the I-601A provisional waiver. The people who need this forgiveness are those who accumulated illegal presence in the following way:

  • If you arrived in the United States without documents and have stayed here for more than 6 months.
  • If you arrived in the United States on a visa and stayed for more than 6 months after your permission to remain in the United States expired.
    • If the family member who is asking you is your immediate family member such as a child over 21 years of age or your wife, you do not need the forgiveness since you qualify to request your visa for the United States. All other people who are not in the aforementioned case will need forgiveness.

The provisional waiver only “forgives” your illegal stay in the United States. The law penalizes all people who entered the United States and stayed for more than 6 months without documents. When a family member asks you and you need to go to your country of origin for an interview at the American consulate or embassy, you are given a sentence of 3 years or 10 years depending on the time you were without documents. All those who have been in the United States for more than 1 year without documents will have a sentence of 10 years. An approved application absolves the sentence of 3 or 10 years and that way you can return to the United States as a resident immediately after your interview at the American embassy in your home country.

Which are the requirements for a I-601A provisional waiver?

  • Be physically present in the United States when you submit your petition.
  • Go to an appointment to provide your fingerprints. bitdefender 2016 torrent
  • Be over 17 years old.
  • Have a visa available with which you can attend your appointment in your country of origin at the American embassy or consulate. The immigrant visas mentioned below are those that qualify:
    • Approved Form I-130 based on a family member’s petition.
    • Approved Form I-360 based on the petition of a Eurasian, widow(er), or special immigrant.
  • Show that you paid the processing fee for your immigrant visa with the Department of State.
  • You are inadmissible to the United States for a period of unlawful presence.
  • Demonstrate that, if your immigrant visa were denied, it would cause extreme hardship to your spouse or parents, if applicable, who are American citizens or permanent residents.

American citizen or resident children do not qualify you for this forgiveness!

Remember that this forgiveness only forgives your illegal stay in the United States. If you have multiple exits and entries into this country or committed a crime, you will not qualify for forgiveness. You also have to make sure that you do not have other things that could make you ineligible for the visa and that for that reason you need another waiver since you are in your country of origin. It is important that an immigration lawyer analyze your case.

Contact us if you need guidance for this process.

What does the Pereira v. Sessions ruling from the United States Supreme Court mean for your immigration case?

What does the Pereira v. Sessions ruling from the United States Supreme Court mean for your immigration case?

On June 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case Pereira v. Sessions, establishing that Notices to Appear, commonly known as NTAs, are not valid if they do not specify the place, date, and time of the hearing. The majority of these notices were issued in such a way, and it can now be argued that they are not valid.

How Does Pereira v. Sessions Affect Me?

First, you need to check your Notice to Appear to see if it includes the date and time of your immigration court hearing. Most of these notices left this information blank or with the letters TBD, indicating that the details would be determined later. If your notice is in this situation, you may have the option to:

  1. If you already have a deportation order and have appealed your case, you can file a motion to reopen your case and terminate it due to the defective notice.
  2. If you have a deportation order because you did not attend your hearing, you can file a motion to reopen your case and ask the court to lift your deportation since your notice is invalid.
  3. If you lost your cancellation of removal petition because you did not have enough qualifying years to establish your stay in the United States, the court’s Pereira v. Sessions ruling determined that a defective notice never stopped your time, and you may now be eligible for cancellation. If so, you can file a motion to reopen your case and have the judge reassess your case.
  4. If you are currently litigating your immigration case in front of a judge, you may be able to file a motion to terminate your case due to the defective notice.

All individuals who have appeared before an immigration judge or are currently fighting their case may potentially benefit from the Supreme Court’s Pereira v. Sessions ruling. Contact us at (619) 748-8621 to assess your case and determine if you are eligible.

Refugee Travel Document (Form I-131)

Refugee Travel Document (Form I-131)

What is a Refugee Travel Document (Form I-131)?

A Refugee Travel Document is official travel documentation, similar to a passport, issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to refugees or asylees. It allows them to travel abroad and return to the United States. Green card holders who obtained permanent residency as a result of refugee or asylee status must also apply for it to travel abroad. While the green card itself grants the holder the right to enter the United States (as long as they have been outside the country for less than 1 year), a Refugee Travel Document is generally required to enter other countries instead of a passport.

Asylum seekers (i.e., individuals who have filed Form I-589) cannot obtain a Refugee Travel Document and instead must apply for an Advance Parole Document, which allows them to return to the U.S. without a visa after traveling abroad.

Individuals with refugee or asylee status and asylum seekers traveling outside the U.S. without such a document or an Advance Parole Document risk being denied reentry to the U.S. and may even be subject to removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

How do I apply for a Refugee Travel Document (Form I-131)?

Lawful permanent residents in the U.S. generally do not need a Refugee Travel Document to travel internationally, as their green cards allow them to return to the U.S. after a trip abroad, provided they have been outside the country for less than 1 year. However, most refugees or asylees who have obtained green cards cannot apply for passports from their home countries or may choose not to travel as nationals of those countries. This document allows these individuals to travel abroad, essentially serving as a passport.

To apply for a Refugee Travel Document, you must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The following documents must be included with the application:

  • Proof of your refugee or asylee status.
  • A copy of an official photo identification with the applicant’s name and date of birth (such as a valid driver’s license or foreign passport).
  • The required filing fee (and an additional biometrics fee if the applicant is between 14 and 79 years old).
  • Foreign-language identification documents must include a complete English translation and a translation certificate.

Additional family members with derivative refugee or asylee status (or who obtained green cards based on refugee/asylee status) must also file separate Form I-131 applications and provide all necessary supporting documents.

A few weeks after submitting the form, applicants will receive a written notice to visit their local USCIS office for a biometrics appointment, where fingerprints will be taken, and they will be photographed. The applicant may also receive a USCIS notice requesting additional information or documentation.

How long does it take to process a Refugee Travel Document (Form I-131) application? How long are they valid?

A Refugee Travel Document application can take two to six months. It makes sense to apply several months before planning to travel outside the United States.

Applicants must be physically in the U.S. when filing the Form I-131 application. However, they can leave the U.S. before receiving the travel document (as long as they complete their biometrics appointment before leaving). Form I-131 has a provision to request the document to be sent to an embassy, consulate, or U.S. Department of Homeland Security office abroad.

It is not recommended to travel abroad for individuals who have filed Form I-131 applications but have not yet received a valid travel document. Although nothing prevents them from traveling abroad, they risk being denied reentry to the U.S. if their Form I-131 application is denied by USCIS and they have not obtained a travel document. A Refugee Travel Document expires one year after the date it is issued and cannot be extended. When planning a trip abroad, the holder of the Refugee Travel Document should ensure it does not expire before attempting to reenter the U.S.

Do not travel to the country of persecution

Individuals with refugee/asylee status in the U.S. should not travel back to the country where they claimed persecution in their refugee/asylee application. Even if they have a valid Refugee Travel Document, they may be denied reentry to the U.S. if they have traveled to this country. In such cases, USCIS, the Department of State, or other immigration agencies may decide that the person no longer faces a risk of persecution in their home country. They may no longer need protection from the United States. Lawful permanent residents who obtained their status as refugees or asylees may also risk losing their green card if they return to the country they claimed they needed protection from.

Do you need to apply for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document? Mistakes in the application can cause delays and rejections. Contact an experienced immigration lawyer to properly prepare and submit the documents, so you get the best possible outcome.

Form I-601A: Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

Form I-601A: Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

Form I-601A, known as the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, is a program implemented on March 3, 2013, designed for foreign individuals currently living in the United States who are statutorily eligible to obtain an immigrant visa but cannot apply for adjustment of status due to periods of unlawful presence. This program aims to reduce the time that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and their foreign family member spend separated during the consular application process.

What is the I-601/I-601A waiver, and who should apply for it?

Foreign individuals lawfully present in the United States can be sponsored by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident relatives to obtain a green card under the Family-Based Immigrant Visa program. In the case of foreign individuals married to U.S. citizens, if they entered the U.S. without inspection (i.e., crossed the border without being inspected and admitted by an immigration officer) and stayed for more than 180 days, they are considered ineligible to adjust their status from within the U.S. due to unlawful presence. In the case of foreign individuals married to U.S. permanent residents, if they entered the U.S. without inspection and stayed for more than 180 days, or if they exceeded their authorized period of stay by more than 180 days after a legal entry, they are considered ineligible to adjust their status from within the U.S. due to unlawful presence.

Foreign individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence face a 3-year reentry ban to the U.S. If they have been unlawfully present in the country for more than 1 year, they have a 10-year reentry ban. These bans are triggered when they leave the U.S.

Before the implementation of the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, the only option for individuals who had been unlawfully present in the U.S. for 180 days or more but otherwise qualified for an immigrant visa, employment visa, or diversity visa was to leave the U.S. and apply for consular processing at the U.S. consulate in their home country. They also had to file Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, which, if approved, would waive the 3 or 10-year reentry ban. Consular processing took a long time, and applicants could expect to wait 1 to 2 years for their green card approval and Form I-601 waiver.

To reduce this lengthy waiting time, Form I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, was introduced in March 2013. With the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver program, foreign individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for 180 days or more but are eligible to apply for a green card through the family-based visa program can apply for the unlawful presence waiver while still in the U.S. The foreign individual can stay in the U.S. until USCIS adjudicates the Form I-601A. If the provisional waiver application is approved, the applicant still needs to leave the country and apply for their green card through consular processing. However, typically, the waiting time outside the U.S. is much shorter than under the previous system, as they are not required to return to their home country until the visa interview is scheduled.

Who qualifies for Form I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver?

To qualify for the provisional unlawful presence waiver, the applicant must meet ALL of the following conditions:

  • Be at least 17 years old and physically present in the U.S. when filing Form I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.
  • Have a pending immigrant visa case with the Department of State (DOS) in the following categories:
    • The applicant is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative; an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, and has paid all required visa processing fees.
    • Be the spouse or child of a principal beneficiary of any of the visa categories mentioned above and have paid all necessary visa processing fees.
    • Have been selected by the Department of State in the Diversity Visa Program and is currently in the process of obtaining the visa.
    • Be the spouse or child of a Diversity Visa Program selectee.
  • Be able to demonstrate with evidence that the denial of their reentry to the U.S. would cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent, and/or evidence of emotional, financial, or medical difficulties.
  • Believe that they are or will be inadmissible to reenter the U.S. due to a period of unlawful presence of more than 180 days or more than 1 year during a single stay.
  • Not be subject to any other grounds of inadmissibility other than unlawful presence.

Situations where an applicant might otherwise qualify for Form I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, but are currently in deportation proceedings are complicated and beyond the scope of this article; an immigration lawyer can provide guidance in such cases.

The process of applying for a provisional waiver can be complex. Knowing all the factors that can affect eligibility and whether there are any pitfalls in applying for the waiver is challenging. Consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to determine the best course of action for you and how to successfully file a provisional waiver application.

Differences Between Permanent Resident Status and Citizenship

Differences Between Permanent Resident Status and Citizenship

Legal permanent residents (green card holders) have many rights and privileges, such as living and working indefinitely in the United States. However, there are several limitations that come with permanent resident status that U.S. citizens do not have. It’s important for all green card holders to be aware of these differences, how they affect their rights and responsibilities, how to maintain their permanent resident status, and how to eventually obtain U.S. citizenship.

What are the differences between legal permanent resident status and citizenship?

Here are the restrictions that green card holders have, which U.S. citizens do not:

Voting: Permanent residents do not have the privilege of voting. They cannot vote in local, state, or federal elections, and doing so would be considered a crime. U.S. citizens do not have such restrictions and can vote in all elections.

U.S. Passports: Permanent residents cannot obtain a U.S. passport and must continue to use their passport from their home country. Only U.S. citizens are eligible to have U.S. passports.

Protection against Deportation: U.S. citizens cannot be subject to deportation to another country under any circumstances. Permanent residents do not have this protection and can have their residency permits revoked, leading to deportation to their home countries.

Public Office: Permanent residents cannot run for or hold public office, while U.S. citizens can do so freely.

Bringing Family to the U.S.: Although permanent residents can petition to bring their family members to the U.S., they must do so under the “Family Preference” visa, which is subject to quotas, waiting periods, and other limitations. U.S. citizens can petition to bring their immediate family members from abroad through the “Immediate Relative” visa, which has no annual quotas and is generally processed faster.

Government Benefits: Permanent residents are eligible for benefits but on a limited scale (many government programs have a five-year waiting period before permanent residents can start receiving benefits). In contrast, U.S. citizens can access the full range of government benefits.

Government Jobs: While permanent residents can work anywhere in the U.S., they are prohibited from finding employment in many U.S. Government Agencies, as those jobs are, by law, restricted to U.S. citizens only.

Traveling Abroad: Traveling abroad can be complicated for permanent residents compared to U.S. citizens. Green card holders who spend a certain amount of time abroad each year risk having their permanent resident status revoked. Additionally, permanent residents must ensure they have a valid, unexpired green card to re-enter the U.S. from another country.

A green card should not be considered a permanent solution but rather an intermediate step toward the ultimate goal of obtaining U.S. citizenship. Please contact us if you have questions about how to maintain your permanent resident status or how to obtain U.S. citizenship.

How to Obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) / Form FS-240

How to Obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) / Form FS-240

Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)

A Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is a document issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate that grants U.S. citizenship to children born abroad to parents, where one or both are U.S. citizens. The CRBA is also known as Form FS-240, based on its document number. The Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Form FS-240 serves the same purpose as a Certificate of Citizenship, a U.S. passport, or a Certificate of Naturalization in certifying the acquisition of U.S. citizenship for a child born outside the United States.

Who is Eligible to Apply for Form FS-240/CRBA?

To qualify for the Consular Report of Birth Abroad, the child born abroad must meet the following conditions:

  • One or both parents of the child must be U.S. citizens at the time of birth.
  • The U.S. citizen must demonstrate physical presence in the United States for the required minimum time (usually 5 years).
  • There must be a blood relationship between the parent(s) and the child. (Additional evidence such as blood tests may be required).
  • Only children who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth and are under 18 years old are eligible to apply for a CRBA. Children of U.S. citizens born abroad who are now over 18 years old cannot apply for Form FS-240 but have other options to obtain their citizenship (see below).

How to Apply for a CRBA?

Here are the steps to obtain Form FS-240:

  1. Gather all required evidence. This includes: documents proving the child’s birth; proof of U.S. citizenship of one or both parents; proof of their marriage (if applicable)*; and evidence that the parent(s) were physically present in the United States.
  2. The birth must be reported to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate without delay. Failing to report the child’s birth on time could cause complications in establishing their U.S. citizenship in the future.
  3. Application procedures vary for embassies or consulates in different jurisdictions around the world, so it is necessary to contact the embassy or consulate responsible for the region where your child was born and learn about their specific application procedures. Typically, the local embassy or consulate’s website will have this information.
  4. After the application is approved, the consular officer will issue a Form FS-240, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad. The parent(s) will receive an original copy. Additional copies, replacement documents, or amendments can also be requested at any time.

*In cases where the father is a citizen and the mother is not, the father typically signs an affidavit affirming that he is the biological father of the child and will provide financial support to the child.

Who is Not Eligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?

Individuals born in the U.S. Virgin Islands (after 1917); American Samoa (after 1900); Guam (after 1952); Swains Island (after 1925); Puerto Rico (after 1899); Panama Canal Zone (before 1979); Northern Mariana Islands (after 1978) and the Philippines (before 1946) are not eligible to apply for a CRBA. These territories are (or were) part of the United States, so individuals born there in the appropriate time periods are not considered born abroad and are already U.S. citizens. These individuals can apply for a U.S. passport by providing their birth certificate and any other document required by the laws governing U.S. citizenship in that territory.

Can Individuals Over 18 Years Old Who Are Children of U.S. Citizens Apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?

Individuals born abroad to U.S. citizen parents who are now over 18 years old are not eligible to apply for a CRBA. They should use Form N-600 to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship or can directly apply for a U.S. passport.

It’s not always this straightforward. Contact us for help with your case.

These are just a few simple scenarios in which a child born abroad to U.S. citizen parents can obtain citizenship. There are many other possible scenarios where minor or adult children born abroad can derive or acquire U.S. citizenship from their parents, where immigration laws are not as clear. Whatever your situation, feel free to contact us for a more detailed analysis of your individual case.

Ways You Can Lose Your Permanent Resident Status

Ways You Can Lose Your Permanent Resident Status

Permanent resident status is granted to individuals who intend to live in the United States long-term and eventually apply for citizenship. As a permanent resident, also known as a green card holder, you have the privilege of living and working in the United States permanently, but there are ways to lose this status. Permanent residence comes with a set of rules that the applicant must commit to and comply with, and violating these rules can trigger a removal (deportation) process and the loss of permanent resident status.

Here are the five most common ways this can happen:

1. Spending Extended Periods Outside the United States

Permanent residents who spend more than 12 months outside the United States may lose their status if the U.S. government determines that they have abandoned their permanent residence. Even shorter periods outside the United States can trigger loss of status. Upon returning to the United States, permanent residents who have spent a significant amount of time abroad will be assessed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, who may determine that these individuals had the intention to live permanently outside the United States and, therefore, have abandoned their residence status. CBP officers can also initiate removal proceedings against these individuals. Additionally, individuals who do not file their tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) while living outside the United States may also face removal proceedings.

Prevention

There are ways to spend a long period of time outside the United States without losing permanent resident status. Green card holders have the option to apply for a reentry permit before leaving the United States; these permits can extend their stay outside the United States for up to 24 months. U.S. government personnel and their families who are green card holders can stay abroad during their official assignment time without losing their residence status. Green card holders working in the United States but living in Canada or Mexico are also exempt from losing their permanent resident status due to extended periods outside the United States.

Obtaining a Visa Again

Immigrants who have lost their permanent resident status and wish to return to the United States must apply for a new immigrant visa. Typically, a U.S. relative can file an I-130 immigrant petition, and the immigrant applies for consular processing after USCIS approves the visa petition. In some cases, former permanent residents can apply for a returning resident visa. This requires evidence of the applicant’s long-term ties to the United States. The applicant must also be able to explain why the extended stay outside the United States was beyond their control and that they always intended to return. The evidence standards required in returning resident visas can be quite rigorous, so it is important to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney.

2. Using Form I-407 to Voluntarily Abandon a Green Card

Every year, several thousand people voluntarily renounce their permanent residence in the United States by filing Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status. The most common reason for doing this is to avoid paying taxes in the United States (which permanent residents are required to do), although there are many people who voluntarily give up their U.S. green cards for various reasons.

In some cases, CBP officers may ask certain individuals who have been living abroad for a long time and are believed to have abandoned their U.S. residence to sign Form I-407 and voluntarily deport themselves from the United States. However, if the person wishes to maintain their permanent residence, they are not obligated to sign the form and have the right to defend themselves in removal proceedings.

3. Fraud and Intentional Misrepresentation

Fraud or intentional misrepresentation of facts when preparing an application, submitting evidence, or during interviews with immigration officials will create significant problems in the future that can result in the loss of permanent resident status and deportation proceedings.

The two most common forms of fraud resulting in the loss of permanent resident status are marriage fraud and nonimmigrant visa fraud.

Marriage Fraud

Dishonest individuals may use fraudulent marriages of convenience with a U.S. citizen as a fast track to a green card. Some common marriage fraud schemes include:

  • Paying a U.S. citizen to marry a foreigner.
  • A U.S. citizen marrying a foreigner solely as a favor to grant immigrant status.
  • Deceiving a U.S. citizen into believing their marriage is legitimate, when it was only done to obtain a green card.
  • Pre-arranged mail-order marriages where both the U.S. citizen and the foreigner know the marriage is fraudulent.

Visa Fraud

Foreigners applying for temporary nonimmigrant visas to the U.S. must convince an immigration officer that they will return to their home country at the end of their visa period. Failure to return and staying in the U.S. after the visa has expired is considered a violation of immigration rules. For example, entering the U.S. on a B-2 visitor visa with the premeditated intention to marry and file Form I-485 to adjust status would be a violation of visa terms and considered nonimmigrant visa fraud.

4. How Criminal Activity Affects Permanent Resident Status

In general, a permanent resident can face removal proceedings if convicted of certain types of criminal offenses, usually violent crimes or any other serious criminal activity that involves jail time.

A comprehensive list of crimes resulting in deportation proceedings for permanent resident holders is beyond the scope of this article. Anyone caught in such a situation should consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can analyze their specific case and provide guidance. Although criminal defense attorneys theoretically have an obligation to inform their clients about immigration consequences when pleading guilty, they are not as familiar with those aspects of the law as immigration attorneys. Even if your criminal defense attorney assures you that your record will be expunged or erased, there may still be serious consequences for green card holders, so it’s best to speak with an experienced immigration attorney first.

A general rule is that deportation proceedings will be initiated against any green card holder who:

  • Is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude and is punished with at least one year of jail time.
  • Is convicted of two or more separate crimes involving moral turpitude that did not arise from a single criminal scheme.
  • Is convicted of an aggravated felony.

Note that even if immigration authorities do not initiate removal proceedings against a permanent resident who has been arrested and charged, they will find it difficult to renew their green card or apply for citizenship, as previous arrests or convictions will be considered a violation of permanent residence rules.

Permanent residents who have been convicted of serious crimes triggering deportation proceedings will not be deported immediately. These individuals have the right to defend themselves before an immigration judge in an immigration court and also have the right to appeal any deportation order.

5. Failure to Act at the End of the Conditional Residence Period

Certain special classes of permanent residents are “conditional residents.” Foreign spouse entrepreneurs or immigrant spouse classes receive what is known as a two-year conditional green card. These are different from regular 10-year green cards because they cannot be renewed at the end of the two-year period.

Foreign spouses or immigrant investors holding these conditional green cards must file a “removal of conditions” petition in the 90-day period before their two-year conditional green card expires. Otherwise, they will lose their permanent resident status and be eligible for deportation.

Individuals who have received conditional green cards through marriage must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Entrepreneur or immigrant investors must file Form I-829, Entrepreneur Petition to Remove Conditions. In both cases, the petition must be filed within the 90 days before their 2-year residence card expires.

Worried about Permanent Resident Status? Citizenship is the best way to maintain your legal status in the United States.

The ultimate goal of any lawful permanent resident is to obtain U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizens are protected from all sorts of sanctions that could result in deportation. Serious criminal convictions that would normally lead to deportation proceedings against permanent residents do not apply to citizens. The only way a naturalized U.S. citizen can be subject to deportation orders from immigration officials is if they fraudulently obtained their green card and/or citizenship in the first place.

Work Permit (I-765) – Employment Authorization Document

Work Permit (I-765) – Employment Authorization Document

Even if you have entered the United States with a valid visa, you are not automatically granted the right to work. Depending on the type of visa you entered the country with, you must apply for an Employment Authorization Document, known as “EAD” for short, you will need a work permit before being able to work legally in the United States. This process begins by submitting Form I-765 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Those with a non-immigrant visa who are in the process of adjusting their status to permanent resident (but have not yet received their green card) also need to apply for an EAD to work in the United States. After obtaining the EAD card, remember that it does not last forever, and you must renew it before the expiration date.

What rights does a valid Work Permit (I-765) – Employment Authorization Document grant?

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) is granted to the applicant if their submission of Form I-765 is successful. The applicant will receive a wallet-sized laminated EAD card with their photo, biometric data (such as fingerprints), and an expiration date. The main advantage of the EAD card is work flexibility. While your EAD is valid, you have the freedom to apply for a new job or change your current job at will, without needing your employer to file any petitions on your behalf. Your EAD card is your work permit and is legal proof that you have the right to work in the United States. Showing your EAD to potential employers will assure them that you are legally authorized to work in the United States, and they do not risk violating U.S. immigration laws by hiring you.

Who is eligible to apply for a Work Permit (I-765) – Employment Authorization Document?

Here is a list of common visa categories whose holders need to apply for an EAD to work legally in the United States:

  • Dependent spouse (H-4 visa) of an H-1B visa holder with an approved I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker).
  • Foreign students under the F-1 visa category who need work experience as part of their study program or, in rare cases, can demonstrate severe economic hardship.
  • Foreign students under the M-1 visa designation who need practical training upon completing their studies.
  • Adjustment of Status applicants who have filed Form I-485 and are waiting for USCIS to process their applications.
  • Those granted refugee or asylum status can apply for an EAD along with their spouses and children.
  • In some cases, asylum applicants can also apply for an EAD.
  • Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens under the K-1 visa category.
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old (K-2 category) of K-1 visa holders.
  • Foreign spouse (K-3 visa holders) of a U.S. citizen.
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old (K-4 category) of K-3 visa holders.
  • Spouse of any E-category investor visa holder.
  • Dependent spouse (L-2 visa) of an L-1 visa holder.

This is just a general overview of some of the most common visa categories that can apply for a Work Permit (I-765) – Employment Authorization Document. It is updated until June 2021 but is not a static list and will change over time as new laws are approved and new rules are implemented. For an updated list of all eligible visa categories to apply for a work permit, visit the I-765, Application for Employment Authorization page on the USCIS website.

How do I apply for a Work Permit (I-765) – Employment Authorization Document? How long does the process take?

Compared to most USCIS applications, Form I-765 is quite straightforward. You will need to complete the form and mail it to USCIS along with all required supporting documents. You will need to find the location to submit the application and determine the corresponding fee on the USCIS Form I-765 information page. For a checklist of all required supporting documents, visit the USCIS page here. Foreign students under F-1 or M-1 visa categories should consult with their school’s international student office for assistance in applying for work authorization in the United States.

Processing times for Form I-765 can vary significantly among different local USCIS offices. For updated information on processing times, visit the USCIS Processing Time Check page, select Form I-765 from the dropdown menu, choose the corresponding local office, and click the “Get Processing Time” button.

Is it illegal to work in the United States without a Work Permit (I-765) – Employment Authorization Document?

Working in the United States without authorization is illegal, even for holders of a valid visa. Violations are taken very seriously by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the penalties can be severe. For example, a non-immigrant visa holder in the process of adjusting status to a permanent resident who is caught working without authorization could be outright denied a green card application.

Anyone caught working without authorization may also be barred from entering the United States for a period of three or ten years, depending on how long they worked without permission. Tourist or student visa holders caught working without authorization are routinely denied visa renewals or adjustment of status applications by USCIS for violating the terms of their visa. A work permit is required even for short-term or informal jobs. Even a few hours of unauthorized work will result in serious immigration problems in the future; it’s better not to take the risk.

To ensure your safety, consult with an immigration attorney to confirm that you are eligible to work or apply for a Work Permit (I-765) – Employment Authorization Document before seeking employment.