Holders of a General Work Permit can legally pursue a job in the USA. We inform you about the so-called Employment Authorization Document, EAD for short and explain in particular the access requirements, application period and important points to note. We are happy to help you apply for a General Work Permit for the USA.

Jump to topic

What is an EAD?

The General Permit to Work in the U.S., known as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), entitles the holder to legally work in the U.S. during the period of validity of the EAD.

Often, married spouses who hold derivative visas (e.g. E-1 visa, E-2 visa, L-2, or J-2 visa) an EAD. With the issuance of such a derivative visa, family members have the possibility to work in the United States. However, it is mandatory to apply for the General Permit to Work in the U.S. in advance.

The EAD Document is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is similar in shape and size to a credit card. The EAD card contains general information about the holder and certain security features:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Birthday
  • Country of birth
  • Gender
  • USCIS Number (= A Number)
  • Passport photo of the holder on the front and back side
  • specific graphic and color palette: on the EAD there is a picture of a bald eagle with mainly red hues
  • Hologram

The design of the Employment Authorization Document was last changed in May 2017. By using special security features, the EAD card is even more forgery-proof and the risk of fraud has been further reduced.

Bild vom Stellenmarkt in einer US-amerikanischen Zeitung

Requirements for obtaining an EAD

The EAD card allows certain groups of people to apply for a work permit. So, if you have an appropriate residence permit or visa for the United States, you can apply for a General Employment Authorization Document (= Employment Authorization Document). Qualifying for an EAD are:

  • Certain family members of E, L, or J visa holders who can thus pursue work in the U.S. independently of their spouse,
  • H-4 Spouses of H-1B visa holders subject to strict entry requirements.
  • foreign students under certain conditions
  • Asylum seekers and
  • Refugees.

Important:Only after approval and delivery of the EAD card may the holder pursue a job in the USA. In return, the EAD is not tied to a specific U.S. company, but offers full labor market access.

If you are a U.S. citizen, GreenCard holder (Lawful Permanent Resident), or Conditional Permanent Resident, you do not need an EAD.

Apply for an EAD

The application for a General Work Permit as well as its renewal or reissuance in case of loss is made directly on site in the United States at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application for a General Work Permit in the US is made by means of the Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) is required. The EAD form currently comprises 7 pages, in which detailed information about the applicant is requested.

Tip: To ensure that there is no delay or rejection, applicants should follow the detailed I-765 completion instructions. Some important points that should be followed in any case are listed below.

Application documents

To apply for an EAD, applicants must.

  • pay a $410 processing fee by check,
  • Provide two recent original color passport photos (US size 2 x 2 inches with full face, looking straight ahead and against a white background),
  • attach a copy of the passport,
  • Submit the completed I-765 document and
  • submit additional documents depending on the individual case (e.g. copy of visa from spouse).

General notes

  • Each application must be signed by hand and sent in original to the correct receiving address. A photocopied application will not be accepted.
  • The application can be completed either by hand in black ink or electronically.
  • Furthermore, we advise you to always make copies of all documents so that you can fully document your application and make inquiries with USCIS if necessary.

The application is then mailed to the appropriate USCIS Service Center. The jurisdiction depends on the group of persons to which you belong as well as on your place of residence in the USA. For this reason, it is very important to check in advance in each individual case to which receiving address the application must be sent.

In addition to applying by mail, there is also the possibility to apply for the EAD online under certain conditions. However, this depends on the respective visa category. You can find more information about this on the official USCIS website.

Supporting evidence

All supporting evidence, such as marriage certificates, that are not in English must also be translated by a sworn translator and submitted in certified form.

Changes in the application

Since application details change from time to time, fees are adjusted, or certain procedures are changed, applicants should carefully read and follow all USCIS instructions and completion instructions before submitting any new application. Only a correctly completed application will result in prompt processing and approval. To do this, you should always download the current I-765 application form in advance and read the USCIS instructions.

Please note that from time to time a new I-765 form is provided by USCIS. It is mandatory that applicants submit the current I-765 document. Older versions will not be accepted by USCIS, which may result in your EAD application being rejected.

Therefore, before submitting the EAD application, be sure to check the update date on the I-765 form. In the lower left corner on both sides of the I-765 form, you will find the date of the form version. You can always download the latest version from the official USCIS website.

Tip: Simultaneous application for a Social Security Number

Take the opportunity to use the Social Security Card to be applied for together with the General Work Permit.The advantage is that there is no need to visit a Social Security Administration Office in person.

If your EAD application has already been submitted without a Social Security Card, you still have the option of appearing in person after receiving the EAD.

EAD processing time

The processing times of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for EAD applications have increased significantly over the last few years. In the past, USCIS had a time frame in which a certain application process had to be completed. For EAD applications, this time frame was 90 days.

Meanwhile, average processing times are communicated for I-765 applications depending on the USCIS Service Center. EAD processing times currently vary from 4 to 14 months. The official website of the USCIS provides the current case processing times.

These delays in the processing process cause serious problems for many applicants who rely on the timely approval of a valid work permit because they are not allowed to begin work in the US without the EAD.

Indeed, an EAD is only valid at the moment it is issued. It is not sufficient, for example, that an extension of the EAD has been requested and the application is "pending". It is also problematic if the validity of an existing EAD is about to expire, because in the worst case the applicant has to interrupt his work with the US employer until the new application for a work permit has been approved.

Based on the current longer processing times, we strongly recommend applying as early as possible. If an existing EAD expires and the new work permit is not yet available, the applicant may not work during this time.

  1. Initial application
    When you apply for an EAD for the first time, you should include longer processing time from the beginning, especially with possible interviews in advance.
  2. Extension requests
    If you want to extend your EAD, you should ideally submit the application 180 days before the work permit expires. This is also the earliest time when an application for extension can be submitted (= 180 days before the current EAD expires).

Note: Due to delays in EAD card production, the USCIS has announced waivers for spouses under E, L-2, and H-4 status.

Inquiries about the EAD processing status

Until recently, applicants were allowed to submit follow-up questions to USCIS regarding EAD applications that were filed 75 days or more ago. However, USCIS has discontinued these "75-day inquiries" for EAD applications.

The 75 days resulted from the fact that USCIS wanted to ensure compliance with the 90-day processing time that was still specified at the time.

Officially, a case inquiry is now only available if the average processing times listed on the USCIS website are not met. A "Receipt Date For A Case Inquiry" is given there.
If the receipt date of your EAD request is before this date, it is possible to submit an Outside Normal Processing Time request.

Our practical tip

You can still try to call USCIS ahead of time or request a personal appointment at one of the relevant U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service field offices.

Schedule a USCIS appointment

At the appointment, applicants should carry the confirmation of receipt of the EAD application, an identification document, and ideally a copy of the submitted application.

We recommend you to become active only after 90 days. Of course, you can also try earlier. According to our experience over the last few years, the processing process can possibly be accelerated at least somewhat by asking. Some of our customers have finally received the EAD within two to three weeks after inquiries. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee for this and it must continue to be observed how the US authorities behave, especially in view of the increasing processing times.

Delivery and return

Once approved, the completed EAD will be mailed to you personally. If you cannot be found or have even moved, the card will be returned to USCIS.

If the applicant does not contact USCIS within 60 days for re-delivery to the correct address, the EAD will be destroyed - accordingly, a reapplication would be required after this time window.

We therefore recommend that you make any change of address immediately after the move using the Instructions from the USCIS to communicate.

Validity of an EAD

An EAD is usually issued for at least one year, but this depends on the category (E, L-2, F-1, J-2, etc.) and current residency status.

Work permits are generally renewable, and renewal depends on your current residence status. The new EAD should should be applied for 180 days prior to the expiration of the old, still valid, EAD. EAD applications filed at an earlier date will not be processed by USCIS.

Name change

The question often arises as to what happens if the last name changes after the EAD has been issued - for example, because you have subsequently adopted your spouse's last name?

In this case, after receiving the new passport will also need to reapply for a so-called "Replacement EAD". The original card can therefore no longer be used. In this case, not only the EAD card is sent in, but also the application fee is due a second time and the waiting time until issuance is the same as for the initial application.

In order to continue working, you should keep a copy of the original EAD with you, as well as the receipt notice of the new USCIS application.

Bidl von einem Videocall mit mehreren Teilnehmenden
Our services

We advise you on the choice of the appropriate visa category and take over the complete processing for you or your company.

  1. First contact: We clarify which visa or which visa types are applicable in your case.
  2. Worldwide support: We will assist you with your request, no matter where you are located.
  3. Assignment: We send your HR department and the respective employees all the necessary documents and checklists.
  4. Visa processing: We take care of checking, correcting and compiling the application documents.
  5. Visa Interview Preparation: We will disburse the visa application fee for you and arrange the visa interview appointment. In addition, each applicant will be prepared by telephone for the formalities and procedures at the US Consulate.
  6. Visa issuance: We check your visa for accuracy and prepare your employees for entry into the USA by telephone.
The most frequently asked questions about EAD

Family members of B-1 visa holders who wish to travel to the United States require their own visa. If your family members are not participating in the planned business activities, they may be eligible for a B-2 tourist visa.

You need a work visa whenever you want to work in the United States on a temporary basis. As described, there are different work visas for the USA. These so-called U.S. nonimmigrant visas differ, for example, in the type of work the applicant does, the length of stay and the type of visa application process. Please note that most U.S. work visas are complex and time-consuming procedures. Of course, we will be happy to advise you on the selection of the appropriate visa category and take care of the complete application process for you or your employees. Contact us today.

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are also granted a derived E-2 visa for the same period as the main applicant. Spouses may also apply for their own Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is not tied to a specific job or the principal applicant's company. This is usually valid for two years, but can be extended for another two years.

Family members under E-2 status can also attend public or private educational institutions. As soon as the children reach the age of majority in the United States, they must either change their nonimmigrant status or leave the country.

Accompanying spouses and unmarried children up to the age of 21 years are granted a derived status on application and thus also an E-1 visa. Spouses with an E-1 visa may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS after entering the United States, which is not tied to a specific job or the main applicant's company, and thus may work in the U.S. independently of their spouse.

This work permit is issued for two years, with the possibility of an extension for a further two years up to the maximum duration of stay of the E-1 visa holder.

Children of E-1 visa holders may attend educational institutions (schools / universities), but may not engage in paid employment. If the children reach the age of majority in force in the U.S., they must change their nonimmigrant status or leave the country.

The fees for applying for a visa vary considerably depending on the category and may regularly increase or decrease, also as a result of exchange rate fluctuations. Therefore, every applicant should inform himself about the current fees before applying.

The application for a U.S. visa must be made through the official U.S. authorities, e.g. the U.S. consulates and U.S. embassies. The actual visa application is placed online, but almost every applicant must go to the consulate in person for a visa interview. With some work visas, it is sometimes necessary to send extensive files by mail to the U.S. authorities in the USA prior to the consular application procedure.
We advise and support companies and private individuals in all matters relating to visa applications. Read more about the requirements, duration and costs of a visa application

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age shall be issued a derived O-3 visa upon application for the same period as the main applicant. However, if the children reach the age of majority valid in the U.S., they must change their nonimmigrant status or leave the country.

Spouses cannot obtain their own Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with the O-3 Visa. Therefore, taking up employment is generally not permitted, also not for children. Spouses and children can attend private and public educational institutions with the O-3 visa.

An Employment Authorization Document EAD is usually issued for at least one year. Of course, it can happen within this period that you find a new job and want to change your current employer in the United States.
If you are in possession of a valid EAD, this is not a problem at all, since the General Work Permit – unlike a U.S. work visa for the – is not tied to a specific U.S. company.
However, you must make sure to apply for a new EAD in time before your current General Work Permit expires.

A Labor Certification is the first step in applying for the Green Card. The application is made by the U.S. employer to the U.S. Department of Labor. This process determines whether or not there is a qualified U.S. employee in the U.S. labor market for the position to be filled. The goal of a Labor Certification is therefore to protect U.S. workers and the U.S. labor market by ensuring that foreign workers cannot replace equally qualified U.S. workers.

Unlike a Labor Certification, which only applies to a specific U.S. employer or job offer, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is a general work permit that authorizes the foreign employee to work for any U.S. employer in the United States.

Another difference is that the U.S. employer applies for the Labor Certification at the beginning of the foreign employee's Green Card application. The EAD, on the other hand, is only applied for after the foreign employee or his or her spouse has been granted a residence permit for the U.S. (for instance, in the course of an adjustment of Status, i.e. form I-485).

Finally, Labor Certification and EAD are also distinguished because U.S. law prohibits the foreign employee from paying for the costs of a Labor Certification. On the contrary, the person applying for an EAD is allowed to bear some or all of the costs of the EAD.

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 shall be issued a derived I visa for the same period as the main applicant. If the children reach the American age of majority, they must change their non-immigrant status or leave the country.

Family members are not allowed to work. Consequently, it is not possible to apply for a general work permit (Employment Authorization Document, EAD) under I status. However, I visa holders may attend a public or private educational institution.

Accompanying family members of I visa holders can travel to the USA visa-free for up to 90 days if their nationality permits visa-free entry.

Depending on the visa type, the application is made through the U.S. consulates in the home country or additionally through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In Germany, for example, you can apply at the U.S. Consulate in Berlin, Frankfurt/Main or Munich.

IMPORTANT: Since 2001, all applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 have been required to appear in person without exception. This means that all visa applicants of this age must submit their application at a personal interview at the U.S. consulate. No documents are submitted in advance by mail (exception: age groups under 14 and over 79, here the application is submitted by mail). Another exception at present is theVisa Reissuance Program.

All applicants of a Nonimmigrant visa must be in addition to the Online application DS-160a visa profile on the website of the Visa Information Servicecreate for the purpose of making an appointment and paying the visa processing fee.

In the first step you make the payment of the visa fee (please note that the application fee is not refundable if your visa is rejected). The fee can be paid by online bank transfer, SOFORT transfer (electronic funds transfer), debit card or cash at a bank. Usually you will receive an email notification that the payment has been received and your account has been activated so that the appointment can be made.

The interview appointment must be made either online via the visa profile or by calling the U.S. consulate call center at +49 (0)322 2109 3243. If you make the appointment online via your Visa Profile, you will have the opportunity to view the available appointments at the U.S. consulates in Berlin, Frankfurt/Main and Munich in a calendar. You will then receive an "Appointment Confirmation", i.e. an appointment confirmation including proof of payment of the visa application fee. Appointment postponements or cancellations are possible. However, if you postpone your appointment more than twice, you will have to go through the whole process from the beginning and pay the visa fee again. On our website you can find the current visa fees.

Depending on the type of visa, a certain application fee is charged per applicant, which is not refundable even if the visa is rejected.

Please make every effort to schedule an appointment in a timely manner. U.S. officials cannot and will not make allowances for individual travel plans.

Basically, in addition to the common DS-160 application form, applicants must have and the "Appointment Confirmation" you have to submit further documents. What these are also depends on the visa applied for.

Please note that your passport will be retained at the U.S. Consulate on the day of the interview and will be delivered by registered mail to a German address after a processing time of approximately one to two weeks. A personal pickup of the visa or an issuance on the same day are not possible!

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 will be issued a derived J-2 visa for the same period as the principal applicant and may travel to the United States on that visa.

Yes. Because the H-1B visa can only be applied for with the involvement of the US company, a US job offer is mandatory. For the rest US work visas generally cannot be applied for without a specific job offer. In addition, the application may normally only be filed by the US employer ("Petitioner") and not by the foreign worker ("Beneficiary").

Other visa topics

Sie haben nicht alle nötigen Cookies akzeptiert um diese Funktion zu verwenden. Sie können Ihre Einstellungen hier ändern.