Can You Work While Waiting for a Green Card?

Securing a Green Card is a significant step toward establishing permanent residence in the United States. However, obtaining legal permanent resident status can be pretty lengthy.

During the waiting period, you may wonder whether you can work in the U.S. to support yourself and your family. The good news is that you may be eligible to obtain a work permit, called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows you to legally work in the United States while your Green Card application is pending.

This work permit can be a lifeline, allowing you to generate income, pursue your career, and maintain financial stability during this crucial phase of your immigration journey. However, navigating the process of obtaining an EAD can be intricate, so seeking legal advice is essential.

If you need assistance with an immigration matter in San Diego, please reach out to San Diego Immigration Law Office APC by calling (619) 473-2506.

An Overview of the Green Card Process

The Green Card, or Permanent Resident Card, holds tremendous importance, giving foreign-born individuals the legal right to live and work in the U.S.

Multiple pathways are available to obtain a Green Card. These include the following:

  • Family-based: Individuals may be eligible through close family ties with U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Employment-based: For those with specific job offers or skills in demand by U.S. employers.
  • Special immigrant categories: For people like religious workers, special immigrant juveniles, and employees of an international organization.
  • Refugee or asylee: For those unable to return to their home country because of persecution or forced to leave because of war or a natural disaster.

How you get a Green Card depends on your situation. In some cases, someone must petition for you. In others, you may be able to apply on your own. After submitting the application, you must go to a biometric appointment and interview. The processing time for your Green Card will vary based on the USCIS office’s resources.

Working While the Application Is Pending

Maintaining valid visa status while waiting for your Green Card is crucial. As a foreign national in the U.S., you must ensure that you abide by the rules and regulations of legal immigration. Falling out of valid visa status can have serious consequences, as you may be considered in the country illegally. This, in turn, can potentially lead to your Green Card application being denied. We understand that you want to do everything right, and preserving your legal immigration status is a top priority.

The Employment Authorization Document (EAD), a work permit, is important during the Green Card application process. It serves as tangible proof that you are legally authorized to work in the U.S. for a specified time while your application is pending. Having an EAD can be a game-changer, as it allows you to pursue employment and support yourself during this critical period.

Getting an EAD involves following specific processes. To begin the journey, you must prepare and submit Form I-765. You'll also need to gather and file essential documents, such as your I-94 travel record, a copy of your U.S. visa, a copy of your passport photo page, and any previous work permits you may have held. Of course, there's a filing fee to take care of too.

Eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document

Let’s take a look at the required criteria for an EAD.

To begin with, to be eligible for an EAD, you must currently be in the United States, a crucial requirement for this work permit.

Next, you must be in a certain category of applicants in one of the following groups:

  • Lawful permanent resident
  • Lawful temporary resident
  • Granted refugee or asylee status
  • Non-immigrant fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Parent or dependent child of a lawful permanent resident
  • Foreign student studying in the U.S. under a specific visa category
  • Employment-based non-immigrant

How Our Team Can Help

At San Diego Immigration Law Office APC, we're here to guide you through the process, ensuring that you meet all the requirements and provide the necessary documentation. We're here to support you every step of the way as you seek opportunities and build your dreams in the United States.

Please call (619) 473-2506 to schedule a consultation in San Diego.