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How to Obtain or Renew your Work Permit

Work Permits for Non-U.S. Citizens: Renewing an Employment Authorization Document


If you are not a United States citizen, or you do not have a Green Card, but you plan to work in the U.S., you need an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD. This is a legal work permit that will allow the holder to work in the United States. An EAD is typically valid for two years and can be renewed, although there are some situations in which an EAD may only be valid for one year.


Failure to renew this document and extend your work permit means your legal authority to work in the United States is no longer valid. If you seek employment once your current work permit has expired, you will be required to obtain a new EAD before you are allowed to work again.


It is important to note that the current rules affecting non-U.S. citizens wanting to travel to the country and work are subject to change, temporarily or permanently, as security precautions warrant. This is one of the reasons it is important to use a skilled Arizona document preparation services company that is up to date on the latest legal requirements for U.S. work authorizations and renewals.


Difference Between Work Visas and EADs


A work visa differs from an Employment Authorization Document in several ways. United States citizens and lawful permanent residents do not need a work permit to legally work. Anyone else must obtain the right documentation depending on their situation.


Work visas are typically issued with assistance of a U.S.-based employer who wants to temporarily bring someone to the country to work. People who have work visas can show an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record as their proof of the right to work in the U.S. EADs fill the gap for certain immigrants who are in the country without a work visa. These may include:


  • Fiancé/Fiancée, children, or spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Refugees
  • Asylum Seekers
  • Students with M-1 or F-1 visa
  • Some domestic workers
  • Dependent spouse of some eligible work visa holders
  • Adjustment of status application
  • Eligible dependents of employees from various agencies like NATO, international organizations, or diplomatic missions


An EAD is not the same as a Green Card and does not grant immigration status. Someone who enters the country with a work permit is authorized to work right away and does not require a separate EAD. Those individuals who are required to get an EAD have to wait until it is approved before they can start working legally.


Who Needs an EAD?


If this is your first time applying for an EAD rather than a renewal, it is important to know whether or not you need one. Those who need an EAD include:


  • Someone who is authorized to work in the country due to immigration status (refugee or asylee), but you need evidence of the employment authorization; or
  • Someone who is required to request employment authorization itself.
  • Someone who needs to request employment authorization itself would be:
  • Anyone with a pending Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485;
  • Anyone with a pending Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, Form I-589; or
  • Anyone with non-immigrant status that allows you to be in the country, but you are not allowed to work without getting permission from the USCIS (i.e., student on visa).


When to Start the Renewal Process?


In order to ensure your current Employment Authorization Document does not expire, you should begin the process around 180 days prior to the listed expiration date on your card. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office must have the application filed and accepted before the initial expiration date passes.


With an increase in people applying for work permits and immigration to the country, it is conceivable that it could take even longer to get an approval. This is why it is recommended that you start the renewal process 180 days before the expiration rather than 90 days like you might see recommended elsewhere.


According to the USCIS website, processing times for the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization has fluctuated some over the past few years. Examples of average processing times for just the EAD alone have been:


  • 2014 FY – 2.1 months
  • 2015 FY – 2.4 months
  • 2016 FY – 2.6 months
  • 2017 FY – 3.1 months
  • 2018 through September – up to 4.1 months


As you can see, processing times have increased every year since 2014, and that is not likely to change anytime soon, so filing your renewal application sooner rather than later reduces the risk that you will be unable to work due to its expiration.


Supporting Documents Needed


Before you apply to extend your work permit, you need to ensure you have all the necessary supporting documents. Some of these include:


  • Form I-765
  • Photocopies of any previously issued work permits
  • USCIS approvals of any permits held
  • Application for renewal
  • Two passport-ready photographs
  • Filing fee in check or money order, no cash accepted


If you have already filed for an adjustment of status, you will also need to provide copies of all receipt notices for any permanent resident status applications.


Depending on your application status category, you may need additional documentation as well. Our skilled paralegals will ask you to obtain all necessary information based on your current status.


For example, an Asylee who has been granted asylum under Asylee (a)(5) needs:


  • Nonimmigrant Arrival Departure Record Form I-94, that shows asylee status;
  • USCIS asylum approval letter;
  • Form I-707 Approval Notice granting derivative asylum status; and
  • Signed order from EOIR that grants asylum status.


Someone who is applying as a refugee (a)(3) needs:


  • Arrival Departure Record, Form I-94;
  • Approval letter for final notice of eligibility for resettlement; and
  • Form I-797 for approving derivative refugee status.


Failure to provide every piece of information or documentation requested will cause a delay in processing and may cause the USCIS to deny or reject your application. This can lead to increased expenses as well as the risk of having your current EAD expire before you get approval for the new one.


Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization


There is no separate application for an EAD renewal. This means the same form, I-765, is used when you apply again. You must have the most recent version of the form; using an outdated version you find online can cause your application to be rejected.


You have the option to have the form filled out by hand or it can be filed online. It will only be accepted provided you send in the supporting documents listed, as well.


The filing location for your EAD will vary based on the type of visa you have and whether you are filing other forms concurrently. Questions on your I-765 will point you to the right location. By hiring Arizona Statewide Paralegal services to assist you, our staff will ensure your EAD is filed with the right office so it will not be rejected and sent back for filing again.


Once the USCIS receives your application, they will mail a confirmation receipt, which you need to hold on to. The USCIS may require you attend an interview and/or visit an application support center where you must update your fingerprints on file. You will have to bring the application confirmation receipt as well as the appointment letter they mailed.


You can go online to the USCIS website to check the status of your application by entering your receipt number. You also have the option to register for automatic updates to receive additional notifications via text message or through emails.


Replacing Your EAD if it is Stolen or Lost


There may come a time when you need to replace your existing EAD because it was stolen or lost. You can apply for a replacement EAD with Form I-765 and the filing fee, unless you have filed a fee waiver that was approved. In the event you did not receive your EAD that was mailed, you need to submit an inquiry about the non-delivery of your EAD card.


Some individuals are not required to pay a filing fee for replacement EADs. These include dependents of employees of certain organizations, like NATO personnel and foreign governments.


Replacing an EAD that has Incorrect Information


If your EAD contains errors, the process will vary based on who made the error. If the error is on the USCIS side, they will make necessary corrections without any additional cost to you personally. You do not need to submit a new I-765 or pay another filing fee. Instead, you must send back your original card, a comprehensive explanation of the card error, and any supporting documentation you have showing the right information.


In the event the error was not caused by USCIS, you must submit a new form, the filing fee (or request a waiver), required supporting documents, and the card with the error(s).


In either case, you need to submit all this to the National Benefit Center or service center that approved your most recent EAD.


Learn More About Our Services


Arizona Statewide Paralegal offers document preparation services throughout Arizona, and we are proud to share that our staff is certified by the Arizona Supreme Court. We have a workforce of skilled paralegals who have been assisting Arizona clients with legal document preparation services since the 1990s.


While you may need to retain counsel for legal advice during the process of applying for a United States work permit, our proficient team can handle the document preparation and even some of the complex issues that may arise. Why spend thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees when you only need assistance drafting standard documents? We offer the same services without the hefty hourly rates. From filling out your work permit authorization forms to ensuring everything is filed timely, we can assist with all your document preparation needs within Arizona. Arizona Statewide Paralegal also offers the convenience of in-person consultations for those clients who feel more comfortable handling these types of legal matters in person.


As you conduct research online, you will see search results for many different legal businesses in the state that advertise their document preparation services. However, that is where most of their services end. These agencies offer no additional benefits beyond filling out your necessary forms. Once the preparation of your documents is completed, you will be expected to figure out how to handle everything else that needs to be done. This can include filing the necessary documents with the appropriate court and, in some cases, hiring a process server to serve any necessary parties. These other document preparation agencies will not assist with any other pending issues, either. This means that if you have any additional questions on a specific process or need to know how to file the documents properly, you will incur additional fees from a completely different legal service.


At Arizona Statewide Paralegal, we take pride in offering exceptional customer service and maintaining a full-service agency. We will not leave you to fend for yourself with a mountain of paperwork that needs filing or make you figure out what court you need to contact, or whatever follow up needs to be done. It is important to point out that we are not licensed practicing attorneys; therefore, we can not legally engage in practicing law in Arizona or any other state. Essentially, this means we are barred from giving you any legal advice or telling you how to proceed with your individual case; however, we can legally prepare all your documents while guiding you through the filing process itself. If you have any specific legal questions that relate to applying for or renewing a work permit authorization, we are more than happy to refer you to a qualified and licensed practicing immigration attorney near you.


If you need other immigration forms, divorce documentation, or any other legal forms prepared, contact our skilled team at Arizona Statewide Paralegal to see how we may assist you. We take pride in providing fast and friendly service, while offering convenience, all at a reasonable low price. We have offices conveniently located in Tucson, North Tucson, Phoenix, and Mesa. Contact us today to learn more about Arizona document preparation services for your immigration and other legal document needs. We look forward to helping you with all your document prep needs.

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