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Form I-765, Explained

Everything you need to know about the Application for Employment Authorization

What is Form I-765?

Form I-765, (officially called “Application for Employment Authorization”), is an application used by foreign nationals to obtain employment authorization in the U.S. If you plan on working while waiting for your green card approval, you’ll need to apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765. With a permit (also called an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD), you can prove to prospective employers that you are indeed eligible to work.

If you’re applying for a family-based green card from abroad, such as a CR1 visa, you won’t need to apply for a separate work permit ahead of time—your work authorization automatically begins once you enter the United States and receive your green card.

Unless you have some other immigration status that allows you to work (e.g. H-1B), it’s important that you don’t do any kind of paid work until your work permit has arrived.

The good news is that getting a work permit is a relatively easy process, especially if you file the work permit application (I-765) at the same time as the rest of your green card application.

In this guide, we’ll cover the cost, timeline, and process for filing Form I-765.


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Form I-765 Cost

Typically, the filing fee for Form I-765 is $520 but the work permit cost depends on a number of factors. The fee could be more if you are required to submit biometrics with your application.

Who needs to pay a biometrics fee when applying for a work permit?

The following filing categories need to pay an additional $85 biometrics fee, bringing the total for the work permit application to $605:

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Principal Beneficiary of an Approved Employment-based Immigrant Petition Facing Compelling Circumstances
  • Spouse or Unmarried Child of a Principal Beneficiary of an Approved Employment-based Immigrant Petition

Who is exempt from paying the filing fee?

The Form I-765 instructions has a full list of who else is exempt from paying the fee.

Fee waivers

If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may request a fee waiver by submitting Form I-912 (Request for Fee Waiver) with your Form I-765 and all supporting documentation.

If approved, both the filing fee and the biometrics fee will be waived, and you will pay $0.


Form I-765 Processing Times

In general, it takes about 3.6 months for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process Form I-765.

Previously, USCIS processed work permit applications within 3.6 months, but a growing backlog has caused additional delays.

The cost for to file I-765 could increase significantly in 2023. To avoid the higher fees, it’s important to file your application before the proposed rule goes into effect. Learn more about what Boundless can do to help.


Form I-765 Eligibility

According to USCIS, if you are eligible for a family-based green card, you are also eligible for a work permit. As long as you have a pending green card application (Form I-485), you may apply for a work permit. For more information, the Form I-765 instructions include a full list of all the I-765 eligibility categories.


How to Apply for Form I-765

You can file Form I-765 along with your green card application (Form I-485) or at any time after you’ve received a notice that USCIS has received your green card application. If you apply for a work permit in the same package with your green card application, you simply need to include a completed Form I-765 and two passport-sized photos.

Even if you’ve already submitted your green card application, you can still apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765 along with a copy of the notice from USCIS showing that your green card application (including the I-485 filing fee) was received.

Be sure to follow the direct filing instructions for Form I-765. USCIS requires that I-765 applicants file their application with the service center that will process their petition. Previously, applicants would send their application to one service center hub, which would then send their application to a different center for processing.

Note:

If you are filing the I-765 with another form, such as the I-485, file both forms at the address specified by the other form.


Required Documents

The following documents are needed to file Form I-765:

  • Copy of your I-94 travel record (front and back), if available, or a printout of your electronic I-94 obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Copy of your U.S. visa (a document placed in your passport)
  • Copy of your passport photo page
  • Copies of previous work permits (front and back), if any
  • Two 2-inch-by-2-inch passport-style photos of yourself taken recently (print your full name and Alien Registration Number on the back of each with a pencil or felt-tip pen)
  • Copy of receipt notice (official acknowledgment letter) from USCIS that your green card application (Form I-485) is pending, but only if:
    • Your sponsor is a green card holder
    • Your sponsor is a U.S. citizen and you’re applying for a work permit after submitting your green card application (which would be unusual)

If you have not been issued a work permit before, you must also submit a copy of one of the following forms of government-issued identification:

  • Birth certificate and a photo ID
  • Copy of a visa (a document placed in your passport) that was issued by the consulate of a country other than the United States
  • Another national identity document with your photo and/or fingerprint

Reasons Your Work Permit Could Be Denied

A work permit may be denied for a variety of reasons. The first is if you filled out the work permit application form (I-765) incorrectly, forgot to sign it, or left out a required element (for example, if you applied for the work permit after your green card application, and you failed to include a copy of the original USCIS receipt notice). The second, less common reason for denial is that your green card application is processed so quickly that you already have an approved green card before your work permit application is finished being processed. This is a good (if rare) problem to have since once you have a green card, you don’t need a separate work permit in order to legally work.

U.S. Immigration can be complex and confusing. Boundless is here to help. Learn more about what Boundless can do to help.


Form I-765 FAQs

Individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, but who wish to obtain authorization to work in the United States, need to complete the Form I765.

There are a number of reasons why someone might need to complete Form I-765. For example, an individual might need to obtain employment authorization if they are waiting for a green card through the adjustment of status process, seeking asylum in the United States, if they are DACA recipients, or if they have been granted refugee status.

Form I-765 can be completed online or by mail. If you are completing the form online, you will need to create an account with USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Once you have created an account, you will be able to access the form and complete it electronically. If you are completing the form by mail, you will need to print out the form and then complete it by hand.

When completing Form I-765, you will be asked to provide personal information such as your name, date of birth, and address. You will also be asked to provide information about your immigration status and your employment history.

The filing fee for Form I-765 is $520. For green card applicants with a pending Form I-485, it costs $260 to file Form I-765.

The completed Form I-765 should be sent to the address that is listed on the form instructions. The address will vary depending on your location and your specific circumstances.

There is no set filing date for Form I-765; however, it is generally advisable to file as soon as possible after your immigration status has been granted or after you have been authorized for employment in the United States.


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