How can you get a work permit in the United States?

What are the requirements to get a work permit? What is the process like? Find out everything you need to know in this article.

There are countless reasons why a growing number of foreign citizens dream of obtaining a work permit in the United States, among them, of course, a higher salary. Are you one of them? Would you like to know all the requirements to get a work permit? How long does it take? What are the benefits? Who is eligible? Just like any other immigration procedure, it takes some time to get a work permit, and you need to be patient. 

What are the benefits of obtaining a work authorization? First and foremost, it guarantees that as an immigrant you can work legally in the country. This permit can be renewed once it expires, or you can get an original copy if you lose it. This work authorization plays an important role in the lives of those who come to the United States to have a better life.

Before you start your process, it is necessary to know the eligibility criteria. You need to know that refugees can choose to have this benefit, as well as those who have been granted asylum or Temporary Protected Status (TPS), foreign citizens who are married or engaged to an American citizen, and also immigrants who start their permanent residence permit in advance.  

There is an endless number of factors to be taken into account when you request a work authorization, and this is why we want to help you with this information.

What do you need to obtain a work authorization?  

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the institution in charge of processing work authorization. Those who are interested can fill out the corresponding form through their website, and apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 

What is an EAD? It is the document an employer needs to see to be sure that a foreign citizen is authorized to be employed in the country. This permit shows for how long the authorization is valid.  

Those who qualify have the chance to start the process with the following form: Afterwards, USCIS will decide whether or not you will receive your EAD. 

In order to avoid any inconveniences when filling out the form, it is extremely important that the applicants provide truthful and complete personal information, such as their full names, date of birth, category to which they are eligible, address. USCIS requires you to pay a fee for the process. 

It is estimated that your work authorization process will be decided within 4-7 months. There are cases in which USCIS will take a little longer. If this is your case, it would be advisable that you hire a competent attorney that specializes in immigration law to speed things up. 

What are the requirements?  

According to USCIS it is necessary for a person to have one of the following documents that would grant you an employment authorization in the United States: a Green Card, a work visa, adjustment of status, or an approved asylum process. You must keep in mind that every case is different, and the waiting time varies depending on the applicant’s documentation. 

The same thing happens with other immigration processes. USCIS is very strict when it comes to granting these authorizations. That is why if you should be thorough if you are applying for it. This will help you to avoid any problems with the authorities, or even being removed from the country. 

Does this mean that if you do not get an EAD you cannot work in the United States? Yes, this document is a requirement if you want to get a legal job in the country. Therefore, if you live in the US or if you are planning to move there soon, try to gather all the required documents. 

Types of work permit 

There are actually different types of permits granted by the US government, depending on you status (whether you are an immigrant or not). For example:  

  • Permanent workers: It is a permit given to immigrants who have been allowed to stay and work in the United States permanently. 
  • Temporary workers: This permanent is granted to foreign citizens who arrived to the country for a short period of time. Many of them work for a few months and return to their home countries. They must have a valid work visa. 
  • Visitors who enter the country for business: This option is directed to whose who come to the US because of business, but it is important that they have a temporary B-1 visa. 
  • Exchange visitors and students: There are some exceptions for exchange visitors and students, so that they can obtain a work permit in the United States. In order to get it approved, a person responsible by the institution in charge must authorize the work permit. 

What are the advantages of having a work permit?  

Obtaining an immigration status such as a permanent residence or citizenship is not so easy. That is why a work permit can be an excellent alternative for those who seek to get a job in the United States. It is true that it can take some time to get a work authorization, but once it is approved, you can legally get a job right away. 

You must also remember that for the work authorization to go through, you do not need to have a specific employer to sponsor you. You can apply for any job you want. Another positive aspect is that there are no limitations as to the type of work you could perform. 

Likewise, another benefit of having EADs is that you can get one while you are applying for permanent residence. For instance, the fact that you do not have a Green Card does not prevent you from getting a job in the US. 

Another advantage of a work permit is that it gives a path for some immigrants to obtain a Green Card. Would you like to know how? According to USCIS, those who have “exclusive abilities” can benefit from that provision. But to get this you will need a “Labor Certification”. 

USCIS is very strict when it comes to granting this kind of authorizations, that is why you should be careful and thorough if you are applying for it.

How can you get a Green Card through employment? 

There are several options for immigrants to obtain a Green Card in the United States by means of employment , which applies to so-called “preference immigrants”, in the following categories: 

  • Foreign citizens in diverse areas of knowledge, among them: education, arts, sports, and business. 
  • Business executives in charge of renowned multinational companies. 
  • Scholars who devoted themselves exclusively to research, and are well-known in their areas. 
  • Foreigners who work professionally in a specialized area.  

What should an employer do when a foreign worker asks for work? 

When planning on hiring a foreign worker, a US employer should keep in mind that he should decide between a work authorization or a permanent residence application. The first option allows the employee to stay temporarily, whereas the permanent residence would allow him to stay indefinitely. 

On the other hand, there are some types of immigrants who require a special authorization in which the employer guarantees a list of conditions to formalize a contract with their company. 

First of all, the employer promises to pay a salary equal to that of other employees with the same qualifications. Likewise, the company needs to prove that it is in fact a stable business. The company must also guarantee that the other employees’ working conditions will remain unaffected after hiring a foreign professional 

Hiring foreign workers requires a lot of responsibility, and that is why employers should be aware of the worker’s eligibility criteria and identity, since hiring someone who does not have a legal permit to work in the country could have serious consequences. Evidently, employers and employees alike need to have professional legal help throughout all such immigration procedures. 

Work permits today 

The current administration has talked about most topics related to American immigration policy, and work permits is no exception. We have witnessed how much pressure the Trump administration has put in order to avoid the approval of political asylum. By doing this, they are looking to keep asylum applicants from obtaining legal employment in the United States. 

Last November, Trump formalized this proposal that aims to restrict eligibility categories and the time frame to obtain an EAD through political asylum. Will this affect asylum applicants? Yes, all of them: those who are currently applying for a work permit as well as those who need to renew it. 

According to an article in the New Herald, Trump’s proposal tries to put pressure on: 

  • The waiting time of asylum applicants. The current goal is that it should take a year to get a work permit. Besides, if the applicant does not show up for his appointment with USCIS, the work permit application is immediately denied, and even the asylum status could be revoked. 
  • The handing over of work permits for those who entered the country legally. Those who did not enter the country legally as well as those who do not request a work permit during their first year of legal residence, and the ones who have committed a crime, would be excluded from obtaining a work permit.  
  • A recommended Approval would not be a viable option either since USCIS would not be entitled to grant such recommendations as they do today to include in work permit application immigrants as well as their immediate family members. 

More restrictions 

Trump’s attempts to avoid immigrants from arriving into the United States do not stop. His proposal affect the approval of work permits in a negative way. If a person does not get his asylum application approved, his work permit application will also be denied. 

Likewise, he is looking to increase the time frame that USCIS to reach decisions. It would not take 180 days to grant a work permit authorization for those who applied for political asylum. In general, it is a proposal that, if approved, would affect foreign citizens negatively. 

Trump’s long term plan is to restrict asylum applications more, and more. He also wants to set up a points-based system to the granting of visas.  

Another very well-known program that he seeks to restrict is the Diversity Visa program, also known as “Visa Lottery”, and it is worth mentioning the constant difficulties that USCIS puts for granting immigration benefits. 

In this context, seeking legal assistance becomes a very important part of the process, because with so many restrictions and the difficulties added to foreign citizens to obtain immigration benefits, the best thing you can do is to hire an immigration attorney. 

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