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Immigration Form I-765: What You Need to Know

Individuals who wish to work in the United States, but are not yet US citizens or permanent residents, must obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), also known as a work permit. Applicants must apply for a work permit by completing an Application for Employment Authorization, or Form I-765.

The work permit is issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It resembles an ID card and allows the individual to legally work in the United States for a set period of time, often one year, although the exact length of time depends on the individual’s immigration status. This issues, as well as many others, can be addressed with your immigration attorney.

When is Form I-765 Needed?

If a foreign national wishes to legally work in the United States, they must have a work permit. The following groups of individuals are eligible to complete Form I-765:

  • Refugees
  • Individuals paroled as a refugee
  • Asylees
  • Asylum applicants, such as those who have completed Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal
  • Citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands or Palau
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), Deferred Action or Extended Voluntary Departure status
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Individuals who are eligible to apply for NACARA relief
  • Dependents of Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) E-1 Nonimmigrants
  • F-1 and M-1 students
  • J-2 spouses and minor children
  • Spouse of someone with E-1, E-2, E-3, L-1, or H-1B status.
  • Principal beneficiary (or the spouse or unmarried child of a principal beneficiary) of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances
  • Certain individuals with B, K, V, N, T or U status
  • Individuals previously issued a work permit under the LIFE Act Amendments Family Unity provisions
  • Individuals who have requested an adjustment of status by filing Form I-485
  • Dependents of employees of diplomatic missions, international organizations or NATO
  • Individuals who wish to renew their work permit based on an adjustment of status and an approved National Interest Waiver Physician petition
  • Individuals who have been granted a suspension of deportation or withholding of deportation or removal
  • Individuals who have been paroled in the public interest
  • Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Individuals who have a final order of deportation, but based on economic necessity, are allowed to work until removal from the United States
  • LIFE Legalization Applicant
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners

This is an extensive and complex list and as a result, determining the applicant’s eligibility for completing Form I-765 is often the hardest part. To make matters more complicated, some of the above listed eligible groups must also complete the Form I-765 Worksheet.

For individuals renewing their work permit, generally speaking, the renewal request should not be completed more than 180 days before the current work permit expires.

Description of Form I-765

Form I-765 is one of the shorter immigration forms. It is only two pages long and consists of 19 questions. The questions are largely self-explanatory; they ask for biographical and immigration-related information from the applicant. There is also a place for the applicant (and anyone who formally completed Form I-765) to sign and certify the information provided is complete and correct.

The most common part of Form I-765 that causes confusion and delay is answering question 16.

When to Hire an Attorney to Help Complete Form I-765

Depending on the applicant’s situation, completing Form I-765 can be relatively simple, with no attorney assistance needed. This is especially true if the applicant is able to receive help from an academic institution they are enrolled in or an employer they work for. However, the advice of an immigration attorney can be particularly helpful for many applicants, especially with question 16.

In question 16, the applicant is asked the basis on which they are filing Form I-765. As evident from the long list of eligible groups that may file Form I-765, figuring out the exact basis of eligibility is not always easy. Additionally, not all eligible groups have to provide the same information or take the same steps for obtaining a work permit, such as when the Form I-765 Worksheet is required. Therefore, outside of the limited cases where the applicant fully understands his or her eligibility, hiring an immigration attorney is, to put it simply, a very good idea.

Form I-765 Fees

The application fee for Form I-765 is $410, but this fee is waived for the following groups of applicants:

  • Refugees and asylees
  • Individuals paroled as a refugee
  • Individuals who have applied for asylum
  • N-9, N-9, T-1 or U-1 nonimmigrants
  • Citizens of Micronesia, Marshall Islands or Palau
  • Individuals granted withholding of deportation
  • Dependents of certain foreign government members, international organizations or NATO
  • VAWA self-petitioners
  • Individuals under TPS

The filing fee is also not required in for certain groups who are renewing or replacing their work permit or when the issued work permit card has incorrect information due to the fault of the USCIS. Lastly, an individual can request a fee waiver based on financial hardship by completing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver.

There is also an $85 biometrics fee for DACA applicants.

Doing Things Right: Protecting Your Ability to Work and Status

When examined as a whole, the relatively modest price to retain an experienced immigration lawyer when compared to a denial of your ability to work in the United States is obvious. If you want to remain in the United States and have a means to provide for yourself or your family, improperly drafting the Form I-765 is just as dangerous as correctly filling it out is important. Be smart about your future. Protect your life in America. Retain skilled, knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyers to best keep your life moving forward.

Call the New York immigration lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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