What is Form I-765?
Individuals who need an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD, to work in the United States must file USCIS Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to receive that documentation. Because personal situations for applicants can be so different, USCIS uses eight eligibility categories to identify eligible applicants:
- Asylee/Refugee and Their Spouses and Children;
- Nationality Categories;
- Foreign Students;
- Eligible Dependents of Employees of Diplomatic Missions, International Organizations or NATO;
- Employment-Based Nonimmigrants;
- Family-Based Nonimmigrants;
- Adjustment-of-Status Categories; and
- Other Categories.
Within each category, the instructions for Form I-765 identify a number of subcategories to further describe applicants’ personal situations. Form I-765 applicants must select the eligibility category and subcategory that best applies to them. The end result is a two- or three-digit eligibility code that applicants use to answer Question 20 on Form I-765.
Where can applicants find employment eligibility category codes for Form I-765?
USCIS lists the eligibility categories and subcategories in detail within the instructions for Form I-765 as well as the Direct Filing Addresses webpage. Applicants can also find a more condensed version on the USCIS webpage on Employment Authorization.
How does the Question 20 eligibility code affect where applicants submit Form I-765?
Certain USCIS offices specialize in issuing EADs for certain eligibility categories. The eligibility category that an applicant chooses on Form I-765 directly determines where the applicant should submit the package for processing. The USCIS website page for Form I-765 contains a link to the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
The link can be found on the general Form I-765’s webpage under the blue “Where to File” tab. Applicants can click on the eligibility category that applies. Each eligibility category contains a table listing eligibility subcategories and the corresponding USCIS offices or lockbox facilities that handle each particular type of request. In some cases, applicants may need to follow additional links within the subcategories to determine the appropriate office and address.
Which USCIS office handles Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization?
The eligibility category code that an applicant selects on Form I-765 determines which office will handle the request. Applicants should check the Form I-765 webpage Where to File tab and follow the associated links carefully before submitting an EAD application. USCIS offices specialize in the eligibility subcategories identified on the Form I-765s they process. For example:
- A foreign student “seeking off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship” is directed to submit to the USCIS Phoenix or Dallas Lockbox based on where they live. That means that the applicant must check the USCIS Phoenix and Dallas Lockbox Facilities webpage to identify the proper USCIS office and address that matches the geographic area where they reside.
- A family-based nonimmigrant, however, such as a spouse or unmarried child eligible to file for employment must choose carefully. While some options refer applicants to the USCIS Phoenix and Dallas Lockbox Facilities webpage, others list Chicago Lockbox facilities or USCIS offices.
- A person with a pending adjustment of status will have to identify the proper subcategory that applies to their situation to determine whether the Chicago office will be handling their request versus having to go through the Phoenix and Dallas Lockbox Facilities page, which will direct them to a USCIS facility associated with their place of residence.
- Similarly, individuals filing as refugees or asylees will find that different USCIS offices handle different eligibility subcategories. While one individual may be directed to submit their package to a lockbox assigned by where they live, another applicant may be directed to submit their package to the USCIS service center where they filed their application for asylum.
Applicants must properly identify the accurate employment eligibility category code to ensure that the correct USCIS office receives their Form I-765 packet and is able to process it quickly.
Who can identify the USCIS office handling my Form I-765?
Applicants can always call the USCIS Customer Service Center at 1(800)375-5283 for clarification. Selecting the wrong employment eligibility category code or sending Form I-765 to the wrong USCIS facility can result in delays or denial of an EAD.