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A complete guide to Form I-765

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Many foreign nationals working in the United States are required to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), more commonly known as a work permit. To do so, you need to complete and file Form I-765. Learn more about Form I-765 eligibility requirements within.

A complete guide to Form I-765

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Many foreign nationals working in the United States are required to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), more commonly known as a work permit. To do so, you need to complete and file Form I-765. Learn more about Form I-765 eligibility requirements and submission guidelines below.

What is Form I-765?

Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form. Foreign nationals working in the U.S. temporarily must file the form which, if approved, authorizes you to work in the U.S. The amount of time you will be permitted to work in the United States depends on your specific immigration status and situation.

What is an EAD card?

An EAD, also known as a work permit, Form I-688A, From I-688B or Form I-766, serves as evidence that the bearer is authorized by USCIS to legally work in the United States on a temporary basis. There are three EAD categories:

  1. Initial EAD. An initial EAD is issued to eligible applicants for the first time under a specific eligibility category.
  2. Renewal EAD. This EAD category is issued to eligible applicants after their initial or other renewal EADs under the same category have expired.
  3. Replacement EAD. A replacement EAD is issued to eligible applicants when the EAD that they were previously issued has been misplaced, damaged, stolen or was printed with an error, such as an incorrectly spelled name or an incorrect address.

You present your work permit to a prospective employer when applying for a job in the United States. Depending on your employer, you may also have to provide other evidence proving you are in the country legally, like a valid visa or a valid passport.  

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Work permit eligibility requirements

In order to file Form I-765, you must fall in one of the following eligibility categories:

Asylee/Refugee categories 

  • Refugee or Asylee (you’ve been granted Asylum)
  • Granted withholding of deportation of removal
  • Pending Asylum and withholding of removal applicants and applicants for pending Aslyum under the ABC Settlement Agreement

Nationality categories

  • Citizen of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands or Palau
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA)
  • Dependent of TECRO E-1 nonimmigrant

Foreign student categories

  • F-1 student seeking optional practical training (OPT) in a position directly related to your major area of study, including
  • Pre-completion OPT
  • Post-completion OPT
  • 24-month extension for STEM students
  • F-1 student offered off-campus employment under the Sponsorship of Qualifying International Organization
  • F-1 student seeking off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship
  • J-2 spouse or minor child of an exchange visitor
  • M-1 student seeking post-completion OPT after completing studies

Eligible dependents of employees of diplomatic missions, international organizations or NATO

  • Dependent of A-1 or A-2 foreign government officials
  • Dependent of G-1, G-3, or G-4 nonimmigrant
  • Dependent of NATOA-1 through NATO-6

Employment-based nonimmigrant categories

  • B-1 nonimmigrant who is the personal or domestic servant of a nonimmigrant employer
  • B-2 nonimmigrant domestic servant of a U.S. citizen
  • B-1 nonimmigrant employed by a foreign airline
  • Spouse of an E-1 treaty trader, E-2 treaty investor, or E-3 specialty occupation professional from Australia
  • Spouse of an L-1 intracompany transferee
  • Spouse of an E-2 Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Investor
  • Spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant
  • The principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances
  • Spouses or unmarried children of a principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant

Family-based nonimmigrant categories

  • K-1 nonimmigrant fiancé of U.S. citizen or K-2 dependent
  • K-3 nonimmigrant spouse of a U.S. citizen or K-4 dependent
  • Family United Program
  • LIFE Family Unity
  • V-1, V-2, or V-3 nonimmigrant

Adjustment of status categories

  • Adjustment of the applicant under section 245—(c)(9)
  • Registry applicant based on continuous residence since January 1, 1972
  • Renewal EAD for National Interest Waiver Physicians

How to file Form I-765

To obtain a copy of the Application for EAD, visit the Form I-765 page of the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov/i-765). Here, you can download the form and print it out for free.

If you are unable to access the Internet, you can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center by dialing 1-800-375-5283 and request to have a copy of the application mailed to you.

General I-765 instructions

The following are the general instructions for completing Form I-765.

  • Answers must be typed or legibly printed in black ink.
  • All questions must be answered fully and accurately.
  • Signatures must be handwritten using black ink; typed or stamped signatures will not be accepted. However, USCIS will consider faxed, photocopied or scanned copies of signatures on an original document, as long as the signature on the original document is handwritten.
  • The application must be accompanied by the filing fee.
  • All necessary evidence must be submitted at the time of filing. Original documents should only be provided as evidence if they are requested. If original documents are provided and were not requested, USCIS may destroy them; however, if original documents are requested, USCIS will return them to the mailing address provided in the application.
  • If a document submitted as evidence is written in a foreign language, it must be accompanied by an accurate and complete English language translation.

Overview of Form I-765 parts

Below, we provide an overview of each part of Form I-765 to provide you with a basic understanding of what type of information you will be expected to provide.

  • Part 1. Reason for applying. Select the item that best describes the reason you are applying for an EAD.
  • Part 2. Information about You. Here, you must provide identifying information about yourself, such as your legal name, U.S. mailing address, physical address in the U.S., previous employment authorization information that you were granted, marital status, Social Security number (SSN), Alien Registration Number (if applicable), date of birth, Form I-94 and Arrival/Departure Record.
  • Part 3. Applicant’s Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature. In this section, you must indicate whether you read the information on the application yourself or if someone else interpreted it for you.
  • Part 4. Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature. If someone interpreted the application for you, they must attest that the interpretation was complete and accurate. They must also provide their contact information, certification and signature.
  • Part 5. Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of Person Preparing this Application, if Other than the Applicant. If someone else prepared the application for you, they must provide they full name, contact information, declaration and signature in this section.
  • Part 6. Additional Information If you need any additional space to provide answers to any of the parts or sections on the application, you may use this section to provide additional information. Alternatively, you could provide additional information on a separate piece of paper with the part number, item number, your signature and the date printed on it.

Necessary documentation

Form I-765 must be accompanied by the necessary evidence, which includes a copy of at least one of the following:

  • Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
  • Valid passport or other valid travel document
  • Copy of your most recent EAD (if applicable)
  • Two recent passport-style photos, in color

You can find out what additional documentation you must submit, if any, on the I-765 page of the USCIS website underneath the “Checklist for Required Initial Evidence” tab or in the instructions provided with the application.

What is the filing fee for Form I-765?

Form I-765 must be accompanied with a $410 filing fee. The filing is non-refundable and must be paid in the exact amount using a check or a money order made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (note: abbreviations such as “USDHS” or “DHS” will not be accepted.)

You may also pay by credit card at a USCIS Lockbox facility. An $85 biometrics fee is also required once USCIS contacts you to arrange an appointment.

Where to file Form I-765?

You can find out where to file your completed application, filing fee and supporting documentation under the “Where to File” tab of the I-765 page of the USCIS website. Alternatively, you can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center and find out where to file (1-800-375-5283).

What is the processing time for Form I-765?

The amount of time it takes USCIS to process an EAD application varies. Generally, however, it takes approximately 6 months. Do note that you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS to provide additional supporting documentation, which could prolong the approval process.

The takeaway

For more resources on how to navigate your new life in the U.S., visit Nova Credit’s resource library where you can learn about everything from renting an apartment to finding the best credit cards for noncitizens.

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