If you’re currently in the United States and you plan to apply for a marriage green card, you may be wondering if you should apply for a work and travel permit at the same time. The work permit allows you to legally work while waiting for your green card to arrive, and the travel permit allows you to leave the country without putting your green card application at risk. Both permits are optional, and applying for them might not make sense depending on each applicant’s situation.
In this guide, we try to make the decision-making process a little easier:
If all of this sounds complicated and intimidating, don’t worry! With Boundless, you get an independent immigration attorney who can answer all legal questions related to your application. Boundless also makes the whole application process easy by turning all the government requirements into simple questions you can answer online — on your own time. Learn more about how we help you complete all the required forms, or check your eligibility for a marriage-based green card.
A work permit allows the spouse seeking a green card to lawfully work in the United States while waiting for a decision from the U.S. government, which typically takes 10–38 months, depending on their situation.
The work permit (officially called the “Employment Authorization Card,” or EAD) is currently free, and applicants typically receive their work permit 5–7 months later.
Do I need a work permit right away?
A spouse seeking a green card typically applies for a work permit if:
• Their F-1 student visa Optional Practical Training (OPT) is running out or has not yet begun
• The sponsoring spouse is unable to work
• They want to skip the process of transferring their work visa, such as an H-1B or E-3, in order to change employers
• Their current work visa is about to expire
If none of the above is relevant to the spouse seeking a green card, it may not be necessary to apply for a work permit.
Can I apply for a work permit later?
If the applicant changes their mind later, they may apply for the work permit at any time after filing Form I-485 (officially called the “Application for Adjustment of Status”).
A travel permit allows the spouse seeking a green card to travel outside the United States while waiting for the U.S. government to process their green card application.
The travel permit (officially called the “Application for Travel Document”) is currently free, and like the work permit, applicants typically receive their travel permit 5–7 months later.
Do I need a travel permit right away?
A spouse seeking a green card typically applies for a travel permit only in case they need to take a trip outside the United States that’s absolutely necessary — such as for a family emergency or critical business meeting — while waiting for their green card application to be processed.
This is primarily because a travel permit does not guarantee that the spouse seeking a green card will be able to reenter the United States after international travel: Travel permits only grant permission to reenter the United States — the final decision to allow reentry is up to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer.
If denied reentry, a pending green card application may be terminated.
It’s also important to consider any pandemic-related travel restrictions that may affect the destination country. The most up-to-date information on travel restrictions is available from any international airline or the U.S. Department of State website.
Can I apply for a travel permit later?
If the spouse seeking a green card changes their mind later, they may apply for the travel permit at any time after filing Form I-485.
Do you qualify for a marriage-based green card? You can check your eligibility through Boundless without providing any personal or financial information. When you’re ready to apply, Boundless can guide you through every milestone of the marriage-based green card process, including your Form I-485 all the way to the finish line. Learn more, or get started today.