Can you work while your green card application is being processed?

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we answer one of your frequently asked questions: can I work while my green card application (Form I-485) is pending with USCIS?


The answer is yes; however, you will first need to file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS and wait several months for this application to be processed.

Once the application has been processed you will receive your work permit also known as “employment authorization document” (EAD). You may obtain a social security number, driver’s license, and obtain lawful employment in the United States once you have your employment authorization document.

Please note that an EAD is not the same as a green card. The EAD simply allows you to work temporarily while your green card application is processing. EADs are typically issued for a one-year period of time and may be renewed if your application remains pending with USCIS past the expiration date.

Form I-765 is typically filed at the same time and in the same package as the green card application. However, if you did not file it at the same time as your green card application, you may file it separately so long as your green card application remains pending with USCIS.

Per USCIS instructions:

“If you properly file Form I-485 and pay the required fees, you may file Form I-765 … without paying additional fees. You may file these forms together, or if you choose to file Form I-765 … separately, you must also submit a copy of your I-797C, Notice of Action, receipt as evidence that you filed and paid for Form I-485.

If it will be your first time applying for employment authorization and you are applying under the following categories, a filing fee is not required for: (c)(9) or (c)(16) Any current Adjustment of Status or Registry applicant who filed Form I-485 on or after July 30, 2007, and paid the appropriate Form I-485 filing fee.

If you file Form I-765 separately from your Form I-485, you must also submit a copy of your Form I-797C Notice for Form I-485, as evidence of filing Form I-485 on or after July 30, 2007, and payment of the appropriate filing fee. If you did not pay the appropriate Form I-485 filing fee because your filing fee was waived or you are exempt from paying it, you must pay the Form I-765 filing fee or request that the filing fee be waived.”

What is the average processing time to receive the EAD?

Processing times will vary by the service center processing your application. The average waiting period is 5 to 7 months. You may check the current processing times for each service center on the USCIS website.

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