Employment Authorization Card

Here’s your guide for the employment authorization card, including answers to the six most frequently asked questions:

  1. What is an employment authorization card?
  2. What is the validity of an employment authorization card?
  3. Who can get an employment authorization card?
  4. What to do if my employment authorization card has expired?
  5. How to apply for renewal of employment authorization card?
  6. How to check status of my employment authorization card application?

What is an employment authorization card?

An employment authorization card is an identification document that shows proof of your right to work in the United States. This document is given to U.S. immigrants whose immigration status legally allows them to work. These documents are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They look similar to a state-issued ID card, showing your photo, date of birth, and a validity period. Here are examples of the two most recently issued employment authorization cards.

Cards issued after May 1, 2017

Previously Issued Employment Authorization Cards:

Who can get an employment authorization card?

Many immigrants qualify for work authorization and all U.S. permanent residents (green card holders) also have the right to work. If you have a green card, you do not need an employment authorization card. However, all other eligible immigrants likely must apply for one using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

The chart below lists the categories of immigrants that qualify for an Employment Authorization Card. The left column lists the visa category, the middle column the I-765 category, and the right column the category number. Each I-765 category requires the applicant to submit particular information and documentation to prove their eligibility. When completing the I-765 application, you will fill in the category number in Item Number 20.

Visa Category

I-765 Category

Category Number

Asylee/ Refugee and their spouses and children Refugee (a)(3)
Paroled as a Refugee (a)(4)
Asylee (granted asylum) (a)(5)
Asylum Applicant (with a pending asylum application) who filed for asylum on or after Jan 4, 1995 (c)(8)
Nationality Categories Citizen of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, or Palau (a)(8)
Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)/ Extended Voluntary Departure (a)(11)
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (a)(12) and (c)(19)
NACARA Section 203 Applicants Who Are Eligible to Apply for NACARA Relief with USCIS (c)(10)
Dependent of TECRO E-1 Nonimmigrant (c)(2)
Students F-1 Student Seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) in an Occupation Directly Related to Studies (c)(3)(A), (c)(3)(B), and (c)(3)(C)
F-1 Student Offered Off-Campus Employment Under the Sponsorship of a Qualifying International Organization (c)(3)(ii)
F-1 Student Seeking Off-Campus Employment Due to Severe Economic Hardship (c)(3)(iii)
J-2 Spouse or Minor Child of an Exchange Visitor (c)(5)
M-1 Student Seeking Practical Training After Completing Studies (c)(6)
Eligible Dependents of Employees of Diplomatic Missions, International Organizations, or NATO Dependent of A-1 or A-2 Foreign Government Officials (c)(1)
Dependent of G-1, G-3 or G-4 Nonimmigrant- (c)(4)
Dependent of NATO-1 Through NATO-6 (c)(7)
Employment-Based Nonimmigrant Categories B-1 Nonimmigrant Who Is the Personal or Domestic Servant of a Nonimmigrant Employer (c)(17)(i)
B-1 Nonimmigrant Domestic Servant of a U.S. Citizen (c)(17)(ii)
B-1 Nonimmigrant Employed by a Foreign Airline (c)(17)(iii)
Spouse of an E-1/E-2 Treaty Trader or Investor–(a)(17) or Spouse of an E-3 Certain Specialty of Occupation Professional from Australia (a)(17)
Spouse of an L-1 Intracompany Transferee (a)(18)
Spouse of an E-2 CNMI Investor (c)(12)
Spouse of an H-1B Nonimmigrant (c)(26)
Principal Beneficiary of an Approved Employment-based Immigrant Petition Facing Compelling Circumstances (c)(35)
Spouse or Unmarried Child of a Principal Beneficiary of an Approved Employment-based Immigrant Petition (c)(36)
Family-Based Nonimmigrant Categories K-1 Nonimmigrant Fiance(e) of U.S. Citizen or K-2 Dependent (a)(6)
K-3 Nonimmigrant Spouse of U.S. Citizen or K-4 Dependent (a)(9)
Family Unity Program (a)(13)
LIFE Family Unity (a)(14)
V-1, V-2, or V-3 Nonimmigrant (a)(15)
EAD Applicants Who Have Filed for Adjustment of Status Adjustment Applicant (c)(9)
Adjustment Applicant Based on Continuous Residence Since January 1, 1972 (c)(16)
Renewal EAD for National Interest Waiver Physicians
Other Categories N-8 or N-9 Nonimmigrant (a)(7)
Granted Withholding of Deportation or Removal (a)(10)
Applicant for Suspension of Deportation (c)(10)
Paroled in the Public Interest (c)(11)
Deferred Action (c)(14)
Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33)
Final Order of Deportation (c)(18)
LIFE Legalization Applicant (c)(24)
T-1 Nonimmigrant (a)(16)
T-2, T-3, or T-4 Nonimmigrant- (c)(25)
U-1 Nonimmigrant (a)(19)
U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 (a)(20)
VAWA Self-Petitioners (c)(31)

What is the validity of an employment authorization card?

How long an employment authorization card is valid is dependent on your current immigration status. Generally, a card is valid for the same amount of time as your visa. The expiration date of the card is listed on the front.

What to do if my employment authorization card has expired?

You must have valid proof of your work authorization in order to work in the U.S. If your employment authorization document is expiring and you need to renew it, you should do so between three and six months before it expires. In most cases, you can renew an employment authorization document with USCIS Form I-765.

How to apply for renewal of employment authorization card?

To apply for renewal of an expired or expiring employment authorization card, the USCIS requires applicants file Form I-765. Generally, you should not file this form more than 180 days before your original EAD expires.

How to check status of my employment authorization card application?

You can check the status of your I-765 application online or by phone with the USCIS. To check your status online, go to https://egov.uscis.gov. To check your status by phone at 1-800-375-5283.