Form I-766: Employment Authorization Document

Form I-766: Employment Authorization Document

Coming to the United States is an exciting time in life that presents many opportunities, one of which is employment. In order to have legal employment, some nonimmigrant visa holders must apply for a Form I-766 employment authorization document. On this page, we will review everything you need to know about applying for your Form I-766.

What Is Form I-766 Employment Authorization Document?

Form I-766 is an employment authorization document (EAD) that certain nonimmigrant visa holders must have to be eligible to work in the United States. Your EAD validity period is between one-two years and expires when your visa does.

You apply for work authorization at the same time you apply for your visa. Your EAD Form I-766 is not a visa itself; rather, it is a document you need in order to work while here in the United States with your nonimmigrant visa. You must have a visa in order to obtain your EAD.

Who Is Eligible for Immigration Form I-766?

You may be eligible depending on your visa category. There are many different types of visas that allow you to apply for an EAD; for a full list, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) checklist. In general, if your visa falls into the two following categories, you will need to apply for an EAD From I-766:

  1. Your immigration status allows you to work in the U.S. and requires evidence for employment authorization.
  2. You need to request permission to work.

Included in these categories are the following groups of people:

  • Those eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Individuals who have status as U nonimmigrants
  • Those applying to register for permanent residence with a pending Form I-485
  • Those applying to adjust status with a pending Form I-485
  • F-1 or M-1 students whose visas do not allow employment in the U.S. without permission
  • Dependents or spouses of certain employment-based nonimmigrant visa holders

Your visa may already authorize you to work in the United States, but you may still need to apply for an EAD, particularly if you are a refugee or an asylee.

A Tip About Form I-766 Eligibility

Your eligibility status does not mean that USCIS will approve your EAD. Even though you are eligible, you still need to present forms and evidence for approval. If you do not, you may be asked to present more evidence, elongating your approval process.

There is also the possibility of rejection. Speak with your immigration attorney before submitting your Form I-766 application to ensure your forms are filled out accurately and you have the correct evidence for your specific eligibility status.

Who Does Not Need Form I-766?

Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and U.S. citizens do not need a Form I-766 employment authorization document. LPRs and U.S. citizens are automatically granted the ability to work because of their status.

What Is Form I-766 vs. Form I-765?

Form I-765 is the physical document. Form I-766 is an EAD card, which you can keep in your wallet. Both Form I-766 and I-765 are valid EADs. You actually use Form I-765 to apply for your Form 1-766 card. People may choose Form I-766 for the convenience of carrying an EAD card rather than the full-sized document.

How to Apply for Form I-766

Applying for Form I-766 is the same application process as applying for Form I-765 because they are both the employment authorization document. Follow the steps below to apply for your official Form I-766 employment authorization document.

Forms Needed

In order to apply for Form I-766, you need to submit application Form I-765. The application process is the same for both Form I-766 and I-765 since both forms are employment authorization documents. You will also need to submit Form G-28 when working with an attorney.

Evidence and Requirements for Form I-766

In addition to the physical form I-765, you must submit additional evidence for your Form I-765 or Form I-766 to be accepted. The general requirements to apply for an EAD are the following documents:

  • Two identical passport-style photographs
  • A copy of your U.S. visa
  • A copy of your current EAD (if applicable)

Along with these general requirements, you need to provide additional documentation based on the type of visa you are applying for. For example, if you are applying as a refugee (a)(3), you need to submit your final notice of eligibility for resettlement and your Form I-797.

However, if you apply under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) , you will not have a Form I-797. Instead, you will file for an EAD along with your Form I-821—or after your Form I-821 has been accepted or approved—along with paperwork showing that your TPS status has been approved by an Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Gathering evidence may get confusing, especially depending on your current immigration status. Consulting an immigration attorney can be a beneficial step in ensuring your Form I-766 application has all the required documents needed for approval.

Where to Submit Your Form I-765

You need to send your employment authorization document application to a direct filing address. There are different filing addresses depending on the type of visa you are filing your Form I-765 with. Visit the USCIS Direct Filing Address site to see which location you need to mail your form to.

Cost of Form I-766

The filing fee to apply for Form I-766 is $410. You may also have to pay an additional biometrics fee of $85 if your eligibility category calls for it.

After Your Get Your Form I-766 Work Authorization Form

Once you receive your Form I-766, you are eligible for employment! Present your card to an employer, as they will use your Form I-766 information as an I-9 document.

Renew Your Form I-766

When it comes time to renew your Form I-766 card, you must submit a new Form I-765. You should file for a renewal no more than 180 days before your current EAD expires. Include a copy of your latest EAD in your new application. Remember, you can only renew an EAD if you are eligible, and your visa allows for it.

Replace Your Form I-766

You may need to replace your Form I-766 if it has been:

  • Lost
  • Stolen
  • Destroyed
  • Has incorrect information

You can file a new Form I-765 along with the filing fee. You can also submit a request for a fee waiver, in which case you would not have to pay if the waiver is approved.

If your Form I-766 has incorrect information not due to a USCIS error, you must submit another Form I-765 along with the original work authorization form card. If your card has an error at the fault of USCIS, then USCIS will grant you a new card with no fee. In this circumstance, you must send USCIS your original EAD card and give an explanation of what is incorrect.

How to Get Form I-766: Get Help Applying for Form I-766

Applying for Form I-766 is an important—and exciting—part of your immigration journey. Working in the United States opens up many opportunities, both professionally and personally. This is why we want to help you get authorized for your work authorization as soon as possible!

Working with an experienced immigration attorney is highly beneficial. We can review your application and make sure everything is filled out correctly. In order to avoid a request for evidence—which makes your EAD application process longer—we can make sure that you provide USCIS with the necessary information to get approved the first time around.

We have helped many people in your same position get the employment authorization they needed to start work in the United States.


Do I Need an Employment Authorization Document If I’m Adjusting My Status?

If you have a pending Form I-485, you will need to apply for an EAD to work during your pending status. If you are currently in the process of becoming a green card holder, as in a K-1 status adjustment, for example, you may have to present the EAD you currently have as a supporting document. Speak with your immigration attorney about your adjustment of status or EAD eligibility.

Can I Apply for Form I-766 With a K-1 Visa?

Technically, you are allowed to work on a K-1 visa while in the United States. However, because the K-1 visa is a fiancée visa that expires within 90 days, it may be more advantageous to wait until after you’re married to apply for an EAD.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney Today

The attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. have over 70 years of combined experience in immigration and naturalization law. We know the ins and outs of EADs and are here to help you on your journey of attaining employment. Contact us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form today! We look forward to working with you.

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