If you want to work in the United States, you must be authorized to do so. Getting authorization, or a work permit from the USCIS depends on several factors including what nonimmigrant visa category you belong to. If you are eligible for a work permit, you will have to apply for one using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Citizens of the United States and green card holders don’t need work permits. A green card itself allows the person to live and work in the U.S. permanently. Foreign nationals who get into the country on non-immigrant visas cannot work unless they are authorized to do so.
U.S. employers cannot hire nonimmigrants for jobs unless they ensure that they have valid work permits. There are a few different categories of nonimmigrants who are eligible for USCIS work permits. Certain nonimmigrant visa holders are permitted to work for specific U.S. employers. You may file Form I-765 for a work permit if your nonimmigrant visa permits you to accept employment in the U.S.
Nonimmigrants who have filed Form I-485 for an adjustment of status must apply for work permits before accepting employment in the U.S. Once they are granted permanent residency and receive their green cards, the employment authorization card is automatically terminated.
The filing fee for a work permit is $410. Some categories of visas will have to include $85 as a biometrics fee. Not all categories need to pay the filing fee, so before you apply for a work permit, do go through the I-765 form instructions to confirm if you need to pay the fee or not. Likewise, the supporting documents you need to include with your application will depend on the category of your visa. So, check the instructions and include the right supporting evidence.
The processing time for a work permit can be anything from two months to 13 months. Sometimes it may take longer.
The USCIS work permits are generally valid for one or two years and are renewable. You may use your work permit to prove that you are authorized to work in the country for a particular duration. The expiry date of your work permit is printed on the card.
You can apply for a renewal of your work permit if it has expired or will expire within 180 days. It is best to apply for renewal during the 180 days before the authorization expires instead of waiting till it has already expired.
You can apply for a renewal by filing a new Form I-765 with the USCIS along with the supporting documents and filing fee (if required). It usually takes 60-90 days to get your work permit renewal application processed.
You may also file Form I-765 if you need to get your lost, stolen, or mutilated work permit replaced. The process is the same as applying for a renewal.
In some instances, you may be issued a work permit with an error on it. The error may have been on the part of the USCIS. In that case, you need not file a new application to get your work permit replaced. You can write in detail to the USCIS explaining the reason for the replacement and send it to them along with the supporting documents that show the right information, and the card with the error. In case the error was not caused by the USCIS, you will have to file Form I-765, and pay the filing fee.