What is an Employment Authorization Document?
U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. If you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to prove you may work in the United States.
Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) may be issued in the following categories:
EAD: This document proves you are allowed to work in the United States.
Renewal EAD: You should apply for a renewal EAD six months before your original EAD expires.
Replacement EAD: This document replaces a lost, stolen, or mutilated EAD. A replacement EAD also replaces an EAD that was issued with incorrect information, such as a misspelled name.
Interim EAD: If an EAD application is not approved or denied within 90 days (within 30 days for an asylum applicant; note: asylum applicants are eligible to file for EADs only after waiting 150 days from the date they filed their properly completed original asylum applications), an applicant may request an interim EAD document.
What Does the Law Say?
The Immigration and Nationality Act is a law that governs the admission of all persons to the United States. For the part of the law about Employment Authorization Documents, please see INA § 274A. The Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] discusses the employment authorization responsibilities of both employers and employees at 8 CFR § 274a.
Who is Eligible?
The specific categories that require an Employment Authorization Document include (but are not limited to) asylees and asylum seekers; refugees; students seeking particular types of employment; applicants to adjust to permanent residence status; people in or applying for temporary protected status; fiancés of American citizens; and dependents of foreign government officials.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need an Employment Authorization Document.
If you are a lawful permanent resident or a conditional permanent resident, you do not need an Employment Authorization Document. Your Alien Registration Card proves that you may work in the United States.
If you are authorized to work for a specific employer, such as a foreign government, you do not need an Employment Authorization Document. Your passport and your Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) proves that you may work in the United States. Please see 8 CFR 274a.12 (b), which provides a full list of the categories of people who do not need to apply for an EAD.