For immigrants seeking to work in the United States, obtaining a work permit is a crucial step toward securing employment. A work permit, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), is a document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows non-citizens to legally work in the country for a specified period of time. In this article, we will explore the various ways to obtain a work permit under U.S. immigration law.
- Through Sponsorship From a U.S. Employer
One of the most common ways to obtain a work permit is through a U.S. employer who is willing to sponsor your employment. The employer must file a petition with the USCIS on behalf of the foreign worker, and upon approval, the foreign worker can apply for a work permit. This process is known as the employment-based immigration process.
The employment-based immigration process is divided into five preference categories, each with its own set of requirements and limitations:
- The first preference category is reserved for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
- The second preference category is for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in their field.
- The third preference category is for skilled workers and professionals, and the fourth preference category is for certain special immigrants.
- The fifth preference category is reserved for individuals who invest a certain amount of capital in a U.S. business.
- Through Asylum or Refugee Status
Individuals who have been granted asylum or refugee status in the United States are also eligible to apply for a work permit. Asylum is a protection granted to individuals who have fled their home country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Refugee status is similar, but it is granted to individuals who are outside the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.
To obtain a work permit through asylum or refugee status, the individual must file an application for employment authorization with the USCIS. If approved, the work permit will be valid for one year and can be renewed as long as the individual remains eligible.
- Through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that provides temporary protection from deportation for certain undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children. DACA recipients are also eligible to apply for a work permit, which allows them to work legally in the United States.
To be eligible for DACA, the individual must have come to the United States before the age of 16, have continuously resided in the country for at least five years, and be currently enrolled in school or have graduated from high school or obtained a GED. The individual must also not have a criminal record and must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
- Through Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary status granted to individuals from certain countries that are experiencing political unrest, war, or natural disasters. Individuals with TPS are eligible to apply for a work permit, which allows them to work legally in the United States for the duration of their TPS status.
To be eligible for TPS, the individual must be a national of a country designated for TPS, be physically present in the United States at the time of the designation, and meet other eligibility requirements such as not having a criminal record.
- Through Family-Based Immigration
Foreign nationals who have close family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents may also be eligible for a work permit. Under family-based immigration, U.S. citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouses, children, parents, and siblings for immigration to the United States. Once the foreign national has received approval for their immigrant visa, they can apply for a work permit while waiting for their green card to be issued.
The availability of work permits for family-based immigrants depends on the specific family relationship and the stage of the immigration process. For example, spouses of U.S. citizens who have filed for adjustment of status may be eligible for a work permit while their application is pending. However, siblings of U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not eligible for work permits unless they fall under one of the other categories mentioned above.
- Through Other Forms of Relief
In addition to the above options, there are several other forms of relief that may provide eligibility for a work permit. These include:
- U Visa: for victims of certain crimes who have cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime
- T Visa: for victims of human trafficking
- VAWA: for victims of domestic violence who are married to U.S. citizens or permanent residents
- NACARA: for individuals from certain Central American countries who have been in the United States since before December 31, 1990.
It is important to note that the eligibility requirements for each of these forms of relief are unique and may be subject to change. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney is recommended to determine eligibility and navigate the application process.
Are you an immigrant looking to have a work permit?
Obtaining a work permit is an important step toward being able to work legally in the United States. The process for obtaining a work permit depends on the individual’s unique circumstances, including their employment history, family relationships, and immigration status.
As with any immigration matter, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that all eligibility requirements are met and to navigate the application process successfully.
Qazi Law has helped hundreds of our clients in obtaining work permits and even travel permits! Through the assistance of Qazi Law, you can rest assured that your work permit will be processed based on the legal requirements by the USCIS.
Ready to start your career here in the United States? Let us help you apply for a work permit! Call our office at 630 504-0648 today to have your case evaluated by our legal assistants or book a consultation right away by clicking here!
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