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Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD), commonly called a work permit, is a legal document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that grants foreign nationals the right to work in the US for a specific period. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • EADs grant certain foreign nationals permission to work in the US temporarily, regardless of their immigration status.
  • Applicants must adhere to specific timelines and requirements when applying or renewing EADs, generally involving the submission of Form I-765 and associated fees.
  • EAD holders are entitled to rights such as non-discrimination and fair compensation, and employers have corresponding responsibilities, including employment eligibility verification and maintaining confidentiality of employee information.

EADs and Work Visas Distinguished. 

Whereas EADs are documents that prove you are authorized to work in the US, regardless of your immigration status, work visas are types of nonimmigrant visas, such as H-1B, L-1, or O-1, that allow you to enter the US for a specific purpose and period. 

Also, because green card holders awaiting an adjustment of status are not considered unauthorized immigrants, they are not required to obtain an EAD to work in the U.S. while awaiting their adjustment of immigration status.

Who are EADs Available to? 

While DACA recipients (i.e., individuals who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) are perhaps the most well-known class of persons eligible to work in the U.S. under an EAD, other persons eligible to work with them include, but are not limited to, certain refugees, asylees, spouses, fiancés, and dependents of certain non-immigrant visa holders.   

When and How to Apply? 

Various application requirements and timelines may differ based on the type of application (e.g., refugee, DACA recipient, etc.). Generally speaking, per the USCIS, the earliest you can file for an EAD renewal is 180 days before the expiration date on your current EAD, and they recommend that you submit your renewal application 120 before its expiration date. 

Initial and renewal applications should be submitted on Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), with a fee of $410. Subject to certain exceptions, you will likely also be required to submit an additional $85 biometrics fee. 

Employee Rights and Employer Responsibilities. 

Other than being authorized to work in the US, EAD holders are entitled to a number of rights, and employers are required to comply with a number of obligations towards their employees who work under an EAD. 

Employee Rights

  • Non-Discrimination: Employers cannot discriminate against you based on your nationality or immigration status, provided you have a valid EAD.
  • Fair Compensation: You have the right to be paid fairly for your work in accordance with federal and state labor laws.
  • Safe Working Environment: Employers must provide a safe and healthy working environment.
  • Right to Privacy: Your personal and immigration information must be kept confidential by your employer.
  • Legal Recourse: If your rights are violated, you have the right to seek legal remedies, including filing complaints with appropriate agencies or taking legal action.

Employer Responsibilities

  • Employer Verification: Employers must verify the employment eligibility of all employees, including those with an EAD, using Form I-9.
  • Record-Keeping: Employers must maintain accurate records of employees' immigration status and work authorization documents.
  • Non-Discrimination: Employers should not discriminate against employees based on nationality or immigration status. 
  • Compliance with Workplace Safety and Labor laws: Employers must comply with all federal and state labor laws, including minimum wage, overtime, and workplace safety standards.

Confidentiality: Employers are responsible for keeping all personal and immigration-related information confidential.

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