Work permit in the US: Requirements, Cost, Application, Validity, & Renewal

A work permit in the US is a permission granted by thee US government that allows foreign individuals to work. Obtaining a work permit does not require permanent residence.

The cost of getting a work permit in the US can range from $410 to $495. Let’s dive into today’s discussion to learn all the detailed information about US work permits.

What is a Work Permit?

Before understanding the process, we need to know what a work permit actually is. A work permit generally refers to an authorization process. It is a document that allows foreign nationals to work in the US.

If someone starts working without this work permit, they can face fines and punitive actions. In the US, a work permit is also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

A work permit typically has various validity periods, and once these periods expire, the document becomes invalid.

Is a Work Visa and Work Permit the Same?

Many people consider a work visa and a work permit to be the same, but there are significant differences between them.

In this section, we will discuss whether a work visa and a work permit are actually the same or different. Let’s find out.

Work Visa

A work visa is typically issued by an employer to an employee, allowing the individual to work exclusively for the employer who provided the visa.

The work visa remains valid as long as the person works for that employer. Once the employment with that employer ends or is terminated, the work visa also becomes invalid.

The validity of a work visa is tied to the duration of the employment with the specific employer, and it cannot be renewed.

Work Permit

On the other hand, a work permit is a document that allows foreign nationals to work for any employer of their choice.

They are not restricted to a single employer and can change employers as they wish. The work permit has a specific validity period, after which it must be renewed.

This is the main difference between a work visa and a work permit.

Why Do You Need a Work Permit in the US?

Why is a work permit necessary to work in the US, and what are the risks of working without one? Let’s explore these points.

When you go to work in the US, you need to obtain a work permit.

However, if you have permanent residence, you do not need to get a work permit, as your permanent residency status allows you to work in the US.

What Happens If You Do Not Have a Work Permit?

What will happen if you go to the US and start working without a work permit?

If you start working in the US without a work permit, you will face various consequences.

If the US authorities discover that you do not have a work permit, they will fine you and take punitive actions against you. This is the initial penalty.

On the other hand, if you work in the US without a work permit and are caught by the police, they may ban you from entering the US for 5 to 10 years.

Therefore, it is clear that working in the US without a work permit is extremely risky. In summary, if you want to work in the US, you must obtain a work permit.

Who Doesn’t Need a Work Permit?

Not everyone needs a work permit to work in the US. For instance, if you are a US citizen, you do not need a work permit.

On the other hand, if you are a foreign national with a green card, you also do not need a work permit because your green card includes authorization to work in the US.

Additionally, if you are a permanent resident, you do not need a work permit as your permanent residency grants you the same permissions as a US citizen.

Moreover, if you come to the US with an employment visa, you do not need a separate work permit.

Eligibility for Getting a Work Permit in the US

Not everyone can apply for a work permit. The US government provides a list of those eligible to apply for a work permit. Let’s take a look at them:

  • DACA recipients
  • K-1 Fiance Visa holders
  • Asylees
  • Immigrants with pending adjustment of status (green card) applications
  • Immigrants with extraordinary abilities
  • Spouses of some visa holders
  • Immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
  • Certain exchange visitors
  • Approved temporary workers
  • F-1 students experiencing financial hardship who want to apply for optional practical training (OPT)

For more detailed eligibility information on US work permits, please visit the EAD Application Instructions

Who is Not Eligible for a Work Permit?

Who cannot apply for a work permit? As mentioned above, only those on the eligibility list can apply for a work permit. However, there are additional restrictions.

For instance, if someone enters the US as a tourist, they cannot apply for a work permit. Additionally, if you are not eligible under the US immigration status requirements, you cannot apply for a work permit.

How to Get a Work Permit in the United States?

To obtain a work permit, you need to download the form from USCIS, fill it out, and submit it along with the necessary documents.

You also need to pay the required fee and submit the form along with the fee receipt to USCIS.

After that, you have to wait for the work permit to be approved. However, you may be called for an interview as part of the process.

Required Documents to Apply for a Work Permit

Before applying for a work permit, you need to gather some supporting documents, which must be submitted along with your application. These documents are:

  • A copy of the page with your photo.
  • A copy of your current U.S. visa.
  • A copy (front and back) or a printout of your latest I-94.
  • Copies (front and back) if you have any.
  • Two recent 2×2 passport-style photos (write your name and Alien Registration Number on the back).
  • A copy of the notice from USCIS for your immigrant visa application (if applying for a work permit after submitting your visa application).

If you never had a work permit, include one of these:

  • Birth Certificate: A copy and a photo ID.
  • Foreign Visa: A copy from another country.
  • National ID: A copy with your photo or fingerprint.

US Work Permit Application Online

Now, let’s move on to the main topic, which is how to apply for a work permit in the US. We will go through the steps of the application process.

Step 1: Apply for Immigration Status

In the first step of the work permit application, you need to apply for U.S. immigration status. Without immigration status, you cannot apply for a work permit.

However, if you already have immigration status, you can directly apply for a work permit. In short, if you do not have immigration status, you must apply for it in the US before applying for a work permit.

Step 2: Fill USCIS Form

After obtaining immigration status, fill out the USCIS form for the work permit application. Complete the form carefully with accurate information.

Step 3: Gather Documents

In this step, gather the necessary documents required for the work permit application. The required documents are mentioned above. Attach these supporting documents to your application form.

Step 4: Pay the Fee

In this step, you need to pay the application fee for the work permit. After paying the fee, submit it along with the supporting documents to USCIS.

Detailed information about the work permit application fee and payment is discussed in the section below, so check it for more details.

Step 5: Submit the Application

At this step, your work is done. Once you have completed the form, attached the supporting documents, and paid the fee, submit it to USCIS.

You may add a cover letter with your application, though it is not mandatory. Adding a cover letter can make your application more polished and acceptable. You can complete this entire process online.

Alternatively, if you are applying with an immigration status (such as a green card), you must submit the entire process via mail.

The mailing address may vary depending on your place of residence. Follow the instructions provided by USCIS for the correct mailing address.

Work Permit Application Cost in the United States

The application fee for a work permit varies depending on the applicant. Generally, regular applicants need to pay $410.

However, if you are a DACA recipient, you must also pay an additional $85 biometrics fee.

Some applicants are exempt from paying the application fee. For example, green card holders do not need to pay a fee to apply for a work permit.

Additionally, if you are filing an asylum work permit application, you are exempt from both the biometrics fee and the application fee.

Work Permit Application Fee Payment Procedure

You can pay the work permit filing fee using:

  • Money Order, Personal Check, or Cashier’s Check: Make it payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
  • Credit Card or Debit Card: If filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, submit Form G-1450 (Authorization for Credit Card Transactions) with your Form I-765.

[Note: Service centers do not accept credit card payments.]

How Long Does it Take to Get a Work Permit?

After completing all the steps to apply for a work permit, you need to wait for it to be approved. Typically, it takes about 3 to 7 months to receive a work permit.

Learn also about the Birth Certificate Ordering Process

Work Permit Application Status Tracking

Two to three weeks after applying, USCIS will send you a notice by mail. This notice will contain a receipt number.

You can use this receipt number to track the status of your work permit application easily.

To track your application status:

Work permit in the US: Work permit in the United States

  • Enter your “Receipt Number
  • Complete the CAPTCHA by entering the characters shown in the box.
  • Click the “Check Status” button.
  • This will display the current status of your application.

Reasons for Denying Work Permit Application

Typically, it takes about three to seven months for a work permit application to be approved. However, some applications are rejected for specific reasons.

Here are some common reasons:

  • Errors in Application: If you make mistakes in your application, such as providing incorrect information (e.g., wrong name, date of birth, or other details), your application will be rejected.
  • Ineligibility: If you are not eligible for a work permit and you still apply, USCIS will review your application and reject it if you do not meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Simultaneous Green Card and Work Permit Applications: If you apply for both a green card and a work permit at the same time, your work permit application may be rejected.

This is because if you are applying for a green card, you do not need to apply separately for a work permit.

Once your green card is approved, you are automatically authorized to work, so your work permit application may be rejected.

Work Permit Validity

For those who receive a work permit, there is a specific validity period during which they are authorized to work. Most work permits are valid for about one year.

After one year, the work permit expires, and your authorization to work ends. In this case, you need to renew your work permit to continue working.

How to Renew a Work Permit?

You should renew your work permit before it expires.

It’s best to start the renewal process 180 days before your current work permit expires because USCIS typically takes about 150 days to process a renewal application.

To renew your work permit:

  • Complete the work permit renewal form, similar to the initial application.
  • Submit the completed form along with the necessary supportive documents to USCIS.
  • Additionally, include a copy of your current work permit as proof that you are currently authorized to work.

Contact Information

If you face any issues applying for or getting a work permit or any other paper from USCIS, you can call them.

Their toll-free number is 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833, VRS 877-709-5797) and the operating time is Monday to Friday, 8 am to 8 pm Eastern


Here are some frequently asked questions and answers related to work permit in the US.

Can I apply for a work permit if my work visa expires?

If you are in the US on a work visa and it expires, you can apply for a work permit only if you qualify for or have an immigration status. Without an appropriate status, you cannot apply for a work permit.

What should I do if my work permit expires?

If your work permit expires, you should renew it as soon as possible. The period between the expiration of your work permit and its renewal can be very risky. It is advisable to consult a lawyer during this time.

Do I need a work permit if I am a U.S. citizen?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need a work permit.

Final Words

In today’s discussion, we have tried to present all the details and steps related to obtaining a work permit in the United States in a simple manner.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to apply for a work permit, provided you are eligible.

Remember, working in the US without a work permit is highly risky and dangerous, so always ensure you apply for a work permit before starting work.

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