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All you need to know about EADs and working in the U.S. while waiting for your Green Card.

What is an EAD?

U.S. Immigration Law requires those who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents to apply for work authorization (EAD) before conducting employment in the U.S. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is a document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for those foreign nationals who are seeking to work in the United States.

What is Employment?

“Employment” is any service or labor performed within the United States for wages or other remuneration (8 CFR 274a.I(h)).

Unauthorized employment is any employment performed by a non-citizen who is not authorized by law and regulations to accept employment or who exceeds the scope or period of the employment authorization. Moreover, immigration law prohibits any employment that is not consistent with the purpose of the foreign national’s specific visa. Each visa is issued with a particular purpose, and the foreign national must spend most of their time engaging in the activities for which the visa is intended.

Some common questions about this subject are:

1. Can I work for a foreign company online and get paid without an EAD?

This kind of unauthorized employment is not allowed, even if you work for a foreign company and even if the payment is made to a foreign bank account.

2. Can I volunteer to get experience without an EAD?

There is no requirement for an EAD for volunteering. However, many states’ labor laws do not allow volunteering in positions usually paid for.

3. Can I invest in a business or trade stocks online without an EAD?

Foreign nationals on temporary visas can make passive investments in the U.S. without obtaining an EAD as long as they do not provide any labor or service or run a business. You may also set up a business, including setting up a company (LLC, Corporation, etc.) and opening a bank account. However, as mentioned above, you are not allowed to participate actively in the business's management.

Who is eligible to apply for an EAD?

Among (but not limited to) those who are eligible to apply for an EAD are the following categories:

  • Adjustment of Status Applicants.

  • Some F-1 Visa Students, including:

F-1 Visa Students pre-completion their Optional Practical Training (OPT) in an occupation directly related to their studies.

F-1 Visa Students seeking off-campus employment sponsored by a qualifying international organization.

F-1 Visa Students who are seeking off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship.

  • J-2 Spouse or Minor Child of Exchange Visitor.

  • L-2 visa holders.

  • Asylees (Aliens who have been granted asylum).

Who does not need an EAD to work in the U.S.?

An EAD is not required for all aliens who wish to work in the U.S. For specific visa categories, the only requirement necessary for employment in the U.S. is a valid Form I-94. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Lawful permanent residents.

  • H-1B Visa holders.

  • L-1B Visa holders.

  • O-1 Visa holders.

  • P Visa holders.

How long does it take to get the EAD?

USCIS processing time varies and may differ from one case to another. If USCIS does not issue a request for additional evidence, the average processing time for an EAD is three to four months.

How and when to renew an EAD if it is about to expire?

For an EAD renewal, you will need to use the I-765 form as with the initial filings. You will need to provide evidence that you are still eligible, such as a copy of your I-485 receipt notice. You should file the request at least four months, but not more than 180 days before the expiration date.

For more information, we invite you to contact our law firm.

*This article has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current, and is subject to change without notice. Readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

© Copyright 2020 by Revital Shavit Immigration law


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