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Work Permit Form

Form I-765: Applying for a Work Permit in the U.S.

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What is a work permit I-765?

Foreign nationals who plan on working in the U.S. while waiting for their green card approval must apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765 or the Application for Employment Authorization. This permit, also known as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), is used to prove the applicant is eligible to work in the U.S.

In this article, we will discuss the details of applying for a work permit using Form I-765, including the cost, eligibility requirements, required documents, processing times, and reasons for denial.


The filing fee for Form I-765 is typically $410, but the total cost can increase if the applicant is required to submit biometrics with their application. The biometrics fee is an additional $85, which brings the total fee to $495 for certain categories of applicants, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the spouse or unmarried child of a principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition. Some applicants may be exempt from paying the filing fee, and it is also possible to request a fee waiver.

There are certain situations where individuals may be exempt from paying the filing fee for a work permit application. One such situation is if the work permit application is included in the same package as an Adjustment of Status (AOS) green card application, as long as the Form I-485 was filed after July 30, 2007. However, this exemption might change in 2023 under a new proposal to increase immigration fees.

In addition to this exemption, there are other situations where individuals may be exempt from paying the filing fee for a work permit application. The Form I-765 instructions provide a full list of these exemptions. Some examples of situations where individuals may be exempt from paying the fee include:

  • Asylum applicants
  • Refugees
  • Certain battered spouses and children
  • Certain crime victims
  • Applicants for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

If an individual is unable to pay the filing fee for a work permit application, they may request a fee waiver by submitting Form I-912 (Request for Fee Waiver) along with their Form I-765 and all supporting documentation. If the fee waiver is approved, both the filing fee and the biometrics fee will be waived, and the individual will not be required to pay anything for their work permit application. It is important to note that not all fee waiver requests are approved, and individuals should make sure they meet the eligibility criteria and provide all necessary documentation when submitting their request.

Processing Times

Generally, it takes 150-210 days or 5-7 months for USCIS to process Form I-765. However, there are reports of growing backlogs that have caused additional delays.

Documents needed to file Form I-765:

  • Copy of the I-94 travel record or a printout of the electronic I-94 obtained from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Copy of the U.S. visa (a document placed in the passport)
  • Copy of the passport photo/biographic information page in the passport
  • Copies of previous work permits (front and back), if applicable
  • Two 2-inch-by-2-inch passport-style photos of the applicant taken recently (with full name and Alien Registration Number on the back of each)
  • Copy of receipt notice from USCIS that the green card application (Form I-485) is pending

Who is Eligible for a Work Permit?

If you are eligible for a family-based green card, you are also eligible for a work permit, as long as you have a pending green card application. The Form I-765 instructions provide a complete list of eligibility categories.

How to Apply for a Work Permit with Form I-765

Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility

The first step in applying for a work permit is determining your eligibility. Generally, if you are eligible to apply for a family-based green card, you are eligible for a work permit. You must also have a pending green card application (Form I-485) to apply for a work permit.

Step 2: Gather the Required Documents

Once you have determined your eligibility, you need to gather the required documents. These include a copy of your I-94 travel record, a copy of your U.S. visa, a copy of your passport photo page, copies of previous work permits (if any), two passport-style photos of yourself, and a copy of the receipt notice from USCIS that your green card application is pending.

Step 3: Fill Out Form I-765

Next, you must fill out Form I-765, available on the USCIS website. You must directly follow the filing instructions for Form I-765, which require you to file the application with the appropriate service center that will process your petition.

Step 4: Pay the Filing Fee

There is typically a filing fee of $410 for Form I-765. You may be required to pay a biometrics fee of $85. There is no fee if you are submitting I-765 with an I-485 Adjustment of Status, or while it is pending – for example, with your marriage-based green card application.  There are also fee waivers available for those who cannot afford the fee.

Step 5: Submit Your Application

When the form is filled out and you have paid the fee (or are including the fee payment with your application), you can submit your application. If you are filing the I-765 with another form, such as the I-485, file both forms at the address specified by the other form.

Reasons for Denial of Form I-765

While getting a work permit with Form I-765 is a relatively straightforward process, there are some reasons why your application may be denied. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Incomplete or Incorrect Information: If you fill out the form incorrectly or leave out important information, your application may be denied.
  • Missing or Incorrect Documents: If you do not include all of the required documents, or if the documents you submit are incorrect or out of date, your application may be denied.
  • Criminal History: If you have a criminal history, it may affect your eligibility for a work permit. Certain crimes can result in a denial of your application.
  • Immigration Violations: If you have violated immigration laws in the past, such as by overstaying your visa or working illegally, your application may be denied.
  • Other Reasons: There are other reasons why your application may be denied, such as if you fail to meet the eligibility requirements or if USCIS determines that there is a national security concern.

Form I-765 is an essential form for foreign nationals planning to work in the U.S. while waiting for their green card approval. This article is an overview of the eligibility requirements, processing times, cost, required documents, and how to apply using Form I-765.

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