Entering the United States with a visa does not necessarily guarantee you the right to work. For many nonimmigrant visas (such as the H-4 visa), you will need to get a work permit to be able to be employed in the country. Your journey to getting permission to be employed in the U.S. begins by filing the I-765 form for Employment Authorization Documents (EAD). You may also need an EAD if you are in the process of adjusting your nonimmigrant status to that of a permanent resident and you have yet to receive your green card. In any case, however, an EAD is not issued on a permanent basis, so you will need to renew your EAD after a certain amount of time.
What is Work Permit (I-765) Employment Authorization?
Immigrants to the U.S. come through different entry visas, including visit, student, marriage, and work visas. Having settled down in the country, you would want to get something going to have a regular source of income. If your own visa to the U.S. allows you to obtain employment, then you can file for an I-765 employment authorization application.
While you might possess the technical know-how and academic qualifications to land a job, the lack of authorization will always be one barrier standing between you and your much-needed job as an immigrant to the country. No organization in the U.S will want to get you on their payroll if you have not been given the authorization to work in the country by the United States of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Employment Authorization Document (I-765) Renewal
Just like almost every other application related to the Department of Homeland Security, the I-765 employment authorization has some conditions attached to it. It also has an expiration date, so it is subject to renewal before it expires. Due to the number of weeks the process usually takes, not filing it early enough might lead to delay, which may put you in a difficult situation financially if your current EAD expires before the completion of the process for the new one.
The renewal process includes the filing of an application form accompanied by supporting evidence, getting your biometrics taken, and paying a filing fee. While filing for the renewal of your employment authorization I-765 application, make sure you follow the instructions carefully because that will contribute to how long the process will take.
How Long Is a Work Permit Valid?
A work permit’s validity period will depend on each applicant’s case. This is because the USCIS usually issues an EAD based on the validity of each applicant’s underlying nonimmigrant current status. In most cases, an EAD is issued with a one-year validity period with the option of renewal before its expiration. The number of times permitted for renewal will also depend on each applicant’s status.
In some cases, however, an EAD may be issued with a validity period of up to two years. This type of EAD is available to green card adjustment of status (AOS) applicants who are currently unable to adjust their status due to the unavailability of an immigrant visa number. To be eligible for a work permit with a two-year validity period, applicants must submit their approved I-140 petition. Asylum applicants are another category of people who may get an EAD that is valid for two years.
When Should You File for Work Permit Renewal?
The employment authorization document is usually issued with a one-year or two-year validity period. You can file for the renewal any time starting from four months before the expiration of the current work permit. You can easily determine your EAD’s expiration date by checking the front of the card. You may decide to file and complete your I-765 renewal application online. If you are filing online, you must be sure you are filling the I-756 latest version as there are outdated versions kept on the website for record purposes. You can also download the form and complete it by hand.
As an AOS applicant working with an EAD, even if you are very positive that your green card will be ready before your work permit expires, it is advisable to still go ahead and apply for a renewal. This is because there could still be a twist of events that will prolong your green card process further than you anticipated. And working without authorization is not an option. Unless you currently have a valid nonimmigrant status, working without an EAD puts you at risk of being flagged for unauthorized employment, which is a serious immigration and labor offense.
How to File I-765 Form, Work Permit Renewal
The work permit renewal application requires the same steps and processes you took while applying for the original EAD. You will file an application to renew the card with the USCIS by submitting the I-765 form along with the following supporting evidence:
- A copy of your current EAD
- A copy of your I-94 form (front and back), a print-out of your electronic I-94 form, your passport, or any other available travel document
- Two identical passport photographs
- If you are an I-485 green card adjustment of status applicant, provide evidence that you have a pending AOS petition with the USCIS (e.g. a copy of your I-485 form receipt notice).
- A copy of a valid government-issued identity document
- G-28 form (if you are represented by an accredited representative or attorney)
Understanding the Difference Between Work Permit Renewal and Replacement
There is a difference between an EAD renewal and replacement, as explained by the USCIS. Your specific case will determine if you will need a replacement or renewal.
Work Permit Renewal
Work permit renewal is required if you still meet eligibility for employment but your current EAD is about to expire or has expired. You will need to file a new I-765 form as explained above and pay a filing fee (unless you are granted a fee waiver).
Work Permit Replacement
There are two instances that may necessitate work permit replacement
- If you are your EAD is stolen, lost, or destroyed
If this is the case, you will also need to file an I-765 application and follow the same process explained above and pay a filing fee (unless you are granted a fee waiver).
- If your EAD contains incorrect information
The second situation that may warrant an EAD replacement is having incorrect info on your card. However, the steps to take will depend on two things:
- If the incorrect information is not due to USCIS error: You will also have to follow the same process as renewal application and pay the filing fee (unless you are granted a fee waiver). In addition to other required documents, the work permit card containing the error must be submitted
- If the incorrect information is due to USCIS error: You do not need to file a new I-765 form or pay a filing fee. The USCIS will make the appropriate correction on the card at no additional cost to you. You will only need to provide the following to the USCIS:
- The original work permit card containing the error
- A detailed explanation of the error on the card
- Supporting documentation for the correct information
How Much Does It Cost to File for Work Permit (I-765) Renewal?
If you are filing for renewal of your I-765, there is a filing fee you must pay before your application could be considered. The payment is to be made with your form submission and the amount for this is $410. After filing your application, you can make your payment online using any of the various online payment options like a credit card, debit card, or bank transfer.
When you are ready to submit your application, you will be directed to pay.gov where you will pay your fee. You must, however, be very careful so you are not scammed by paying into scammers’ accounts. For this reason, you will have to double-check the website address to be sure you are on the USCIS site and not some fraudulent page.
Some applicants are given a payment waiver which exempts them from paying the filing fee. The I-765 filing fee exemption is usually for those who, due to economic or medical reasons, are unable to pay the fee. If you want to be considered for the filing fee waiver, you have to make an official request to the USCIS by doing the following:
- Sending a letter requesting for the I-765 filing fee exemption explaining your reasons for the request
- Accompanying your letter with copies of documents backing up your claims of inability to afford the fee
- Ensuring the letter is written in English and signed
- Mailing your request to the USCIS
The USCIS will review your letter and, upon review, may also request that you provide more supporting evidence before then send you a mail confirming your fee waiver approval or denial.
How Long Does The I-756 Employment Authorization Renewal Process Take?
The USCIS is allowed up to 90 days to process your EAD application from the day you submit your form. It is advisable to begin the process four months prior to the expiration date which is clearly shown on your EAD, but not before. For instance, if your EAD is to expire in the next 120 days, you can file your renewal application now. This will give you enough time to process the form and complete it before the expiration of your current work permit. To ensure speedy processing of your work permit renewal, here are some of the items that must be included in your form:
- You must specifically state your purpose of filing for the I-765 from the options which are
- Initial permission
- Replacement of damaged lost or stolen EAD; or
- Renewal of EAD
- Since you are filing for renewal, you must submit a copy of your current EAD
- You must enter all the required information
- Append your signature after you might have filled the form
It is important to note that if you fail to completely fill out the application form and provide all the required evidence it might lead to the denial of your application by the USCIS, which means your renewal application form will not be processed.
What If My I-756 Employment Renewal Application Is Delayed?
After receiving your application, the USCIS will send you a mail to confirm receipt of your form. You are to keep the receipt as it will be needed later on. During the process, the USCIS may invite you to appear in person at their application support center to have your biometrics taken.
When going for the interview, make sure that you bring the appointment letter and application confirmation notice sent to you by the USCIS. While waiting for the completion of your application process, the system also allows you to check the status of your application online to keep tabs on the progress of your application. To have access to the status, you will need to visit the USCIS website and enter your receipt number.
Through regular communications with the USCIS, you should know how soon you are to get your work permit renewal approved. However, if you have appropriately completed the form your EAD is being delayed after 90 days, you can contact the USCIS to learn the reason for the delay and ask for the process to be expedited.
To be sure you are not the cause of the delay in the first place, you will need to review all the requirements and supporting evidence in the application form you filed to know if you did not leave out any requested evidence while filing.
What If My EAD Renewal Application Is Denied?
If your application to renew your work permit is denied, the USCIS will send you a notice indicating the reason for the denial. Facing an EAD application denial will affect your eligibility to continue working in the U.S. It is important to consult an immigration lawyer on the next step to take.
Just like many other immigration cases, you can file a motion to reopen or reconsider the decision. This means you want the USCIS office to reconsider or re-examine its decision on your case.
If you file a motion to reopen, you must provide documented evidence with new facts to support that your case deserves to be reopened. If you are opting for a motion to reconsider, you must be able to establish that the decision was due to an incorrect application of the law on the part of the evaluating officer.
Whichever you are choosing out of the two options, ensure that you provide enough supporting evidence. However, it is worth noting that it is the prerogative of the Administrative Appeals Office to either uphold or reverse the case. However, working with an experienced immigration attorney will help you make an informed decision that will significantly improve your chances of successful application.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
Normally, the process should take around 90 days, as mentioned above. But from the experiences of many applicants, there has been a continual rise in I-756 application processing delay for some years now. In some cases, it is taking up to up to four months or more.
This situation poses economic threats to many families in the U.S. because, without work permit authorization, getting a job legally in the U.S. is impossible and maintaining financial stability becomes a more difficult task. It is, therefore, always good to prevent the delay at the initial stage. To avoid experiencing delay or denial of your work permit renewal application process, the best thing you can do is to engage the service of an expert in the immigration matters.
Our immigration attorneys are qualified and experienced in helping applicants initiate and complete their work permit I-765 renewal process. We have successfully done this for countless clients and we can boast of a credible track record of several achievements in EAD related cases.