There are ample opportunities for work in the United States, and traveling to the U.S. for work gives individuals time to explore the country. If you are not a citizen of the United States and do not have a green card, you may think that working in the U.S. is out of the question. However, this is not true. You do not necessarily need to be a green card holder to travel and work in the United States. You do, however, need to acquire an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD.
What Is an EAD Card?
An EAD is a document issued by the USCIS that authorizes an alien to work in the U.S., usually for one year. Also known as a work permit, an EAD is essentially a card with the alien’s photo, name, and work eligibility expiration date. When you work in the United States, your employer will need to ensure that you are legally allowed to work. An EAD is one way to prove that you are permitted to work in the U.S. for a specified period of time. To request an EAD, you will need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
When you submit an EAD application, you will also be responsible for paying a fee with your application. Currently, the filing fee is $410, along with an $85 fee for biometrics or fingerprinting in certain situations \ Having an EAD helps ensure that aliens do not face certain legal consequences if caught working in the United States illegally.
What are Green Cards?
A green card allows immigrants to permanently live and work in the U.S. The official name of the green card is the Lawful Permanent Resident card. By obtaining a green card, immigrants have the option to move to the United States and live there as long as they would like. To apply for a green card, an application and certain documentation must be sent to USCIS. However, in most cases, someone must file an immigrant petition for you and act as your sponsor.
After receiving a green card, the immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. However, receiving a green card does not give an immigrant all the rights that a U.S. citizen has. For example, a green card holder cannot vote in U.S. elections. In addition, the status of a green card holder does not always remain permanent. If a green card holder stays out of the United States for a period exceeding 6 months, there is a presumption that they have abandoned their residency and they may be denied reentry into the United States at a later date with their green card, and referred to an immigration judge in removal proceedings.
What Is the Difference Between an EAD and a Green Card?
There are some unique differences between EAD cards and green cards. First, EAD cards allow immigrants to temporarily work for a specific job, while green card holders become permanent residents of the U.S. Another difference between these two cards is the freedoms allowed. Green card holders are able to travel freely in and out of the U.S., as well as file petitions for spouses and unmarried children to live in the United States. An EAD card does not offer these benefits. With an EAD card, you need to file for a travel document to get in and out of the country.
Overall, an EAD is much more limited in what you can do. However, it is a suitable option for various non-immigrant categories, as well as people waiting for pending applications with USCIS. This means that immigrants who do not yet have a green card are able to start working in the U.S. The processing time to get a card can also vary. It takes approximately 7 to 33 months to process a green card application. However, it only takes about 3 to 6 months to process and approve an EAD application.
Where to Learn More
While EAD cards and green cards both function as photo identity cards for immigrants looking to enter the U.S., they represent different statuses. If you are interested in working legally in the United States, you will likely need to obtain a job offer, as well as a work permit or green card. If you are uncertain whether you qualify for an EAD card or green card, or need assistance with an application, an immigration attorney can give you the guidance you need. For more information about EAD or green cards, contact the immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi.