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How to Get a Work Permit in the U.S.

Also known as an Employment Authorization, a U.S. work permit gives non citizens the right to work within the U.S. by providing a special privilege. U.S. citizens don’t need this as they are free to seek employment in any industry and at any time.

Applying for a U.S. Work Permit

There are several requirements that you must meet in order to get a permit to work in the country.

Required Documents

Following are the documents that you will need to provide:

  • Copy of your U.S. Visa
  • Your I-94 travel record’s copy (back and front), if available. You can also provide a printout of your electronic I-94
  • Two 2-inch-by-2-inch recent photos of yourself (passport style). Write your Alien Registration Number and your full name on the back of both photos with a pencil
  • Copies of previous work permits (back and front), if any
  • Copy of your passport photo page
  • Copy of receipt notice from USCIS that your I-485 Form (marriage-based green card application) is pending. This is required only if you are married to a U.S. citizen and applying for a U.S. work permit after you have applied for a green card

You must also provide a copy of one of the following if you have not been issued a work permit before:

  • A photo ID and birth certificate
  • Copy of a visa issued by a consulate of another country
  • Other national identity document with your fingerprint and/or photo

In some cases, you may also need to provide proof of economic status. This may include a list of assets, statement of expenses and income.

The Application Process

The application process is quite straightforward. After fulfilling all the requirements listed above, you must fill the I-765 Form. Then, prove eligibility for the U.S. work permit, pay the required fees, and finally submit the documents and the form to the USCIS. USCIS en Español

I-765 Form

You can get the I-765 Form from the USCIS website. This two-page document is self-explanatory. You can either print the form first and fill it or fill it online and then print it.

Things to know about the I-765 Form:

  • You must use Black ink to fill out the form.
  • When filling out the form, don’t leave any question blank and answer with N/A if any point is not applicable.
  • Before submitting the form, it is recommended that you keep a copy of it for personal reference.
  • Important: any form that is not signed will be rejected.

Submitting the Form

You can submit the application by mail or online. For an online submission, you will need to submit the form to the USCIS service center.


Here are the key points regarding the cost/fee of application:

  • The filing fee of submitting the I-765 Form is $410.
  • The fee must be paid in U.S. dollars. You can pay it in the form of a check or money order.
  • There’s also $85 biometric fee that you will need to pay, unless it is specifically waived.
  • Some applicants such as U1, N9, or N8 non immigrants and refugees may be exempted from this fee. Contact the USCIS service center to learn more about it.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Work Permit?

It can take about 5-7 months for your work permit application to get processed. You can check your U.S. work permit case or application status online, by phone, or by contacting a relevant USCIS office.