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How to get a work permit (employment authorization document) 


Individuals who are not U.S. citizens or green card holders (permanent residents) are permitted to work in the U.S. under two circumstances. They can apply for an employment authorization document (commonly referred to as a work permit). Or they can work for a specific employer based on their visa category.

Certain categories require that an alien seeking to work apply for a work permit. Some of these categories are aliens who have been granted asylum, dependents of J-1 exchange visitors, and applicants who have submitted an adjustment of status application. An application for a work permit is made using Form I-765. The instructions to this form provide all the categories where an applicant can apply for a work permit. If the INS does not provide a decision within 90 days to the Employment Authorization Document application, the applicant may request an interim Employment Authorization Document. He may go down to the nearest local INS office and produce proof that he is eligible for a work permit under one of the available categories.

If the alien is authorized to work for a specific employer, such as a company or foreign government, he does not need an Employment Authorization Document. His passport and Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) shows that he may work in the United States. These aliens are authorized for employment with a specific employer incident to status. An alien in one of these classes is not issued an employment authorization document by the INS:

(1) A foreign government official (A-1 or A-2 status);

(2) An employee of a foreign government official (A-3),

(3) A foreign government official in transit (C-2 or C-3);

(4) A nonimmigrant treaty trader (E-1) or treaty investor (E-2);

(5) A nonimmigrant (F-1) student who is in valid nonimmigrant student status and pursuant to
8 CFR 214.2(f) is seeking on-campus employment, part-time off-campus employment, or curricular practical training.

(6) A representative of an international organization (G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4);

(7) A personal employee of an official or representative of an international organization (G-5);

(8) A temporary worker or trainee (H-1, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3);

(10) An information media representative (I);

(11) An exchange visitor (J-1);

(12) An intra-company transferee (L-1);

(13) An alien having extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1), and an accompanying alien (O-2);

(14) An athlete, artist, or entertainer (P-1, P-2, or P-3);

(15) An international cultural exchange visitor (Q);

(16) An alien having a religious occupation (R-1);

(17) Officers and personnel of the armed services of nations of NATO, and representatives, officials, and staff employees of NATO;

(18) An attendant, servant or personal employee (NATO-7) of an alien admitted as a NATO-1 through NATO-6,

(19) A nonimmigrant engaged in business activities in accordance with NAFTA;




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