Top Ten Ways to Get a Work Permit

Many individuals come to the United States with the hope of being able to work temporarily. However, if you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, the only way an individual can be issued a work permit is if they apply for an immigration benefit or have a status that grants one. There is no way of applying for work authorization independent of another application tied to someone sponsoring an individual, incident to class such as a student, or connected to some humanitarian application such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Nonetheless, it is essential to understand some of the most common avenues to obtaining a work permit.

  1. Asylum. It is the most common benefit immigrants qualify for, but the issuance of a work permit is automatic, which causes it to be the number one form of fraud. Please be careful that many individuals who do not qualify for asylum are told they qualify for a work permit because of the length of time they have been in the United States or because they have U.S. Citizen children. They are not told that a fraudulent asylum application is being filed on their behalf to get a work permit. It can also lead to a deportation order when the case is referred to court, and the government discovers the application was frivolous. No one can qualify for relief.
  1. Permanent Residency. When an individual applies for permanent residency, whether through family, employment, or some other manner, and completes the required application, they will qualify for a work permit and be issued a social security number.
  1. Spouses and children of J visa holders. The law allows the spouses of J-1 and exchange students to work in the United States. The process is relatively straightforward. The J 2 visa holder must file an I-765 application to obtain one.
  1. International students (F-1, J-1, and M-1 students) who are part of an OPT (Optional Practical Training) program or have economic hardship may qualify for a work permit.
  1. Spouses of specific employment-based nonimmigrant visa holders such as E, L, and certain H1-B visa holders are also eligible for work authorization.
  1. DACA recipients and those with deferred action. Deferred action is protection from deportation and provides work authorization. It is not only available for DACA recipients but others who may qualify, such as individuals who have filed a petition under the Violence Against Women’s Act.
  1. K-1 visa holders (aka fiancée visas), their children, K-2 visa holders, and K-3 spouses of U.S. Citizens are all eligible to work in the United States once their employment authorization document is issued.
  1. Refugees and other humanitarian applicants such as U and T visa holders can work in the United States once their applications for work authorization have been approved. In the case of some humanitarian applications, you may need to wait until the U.S. government has determined that your application is approvable and not frivolous.
  1. Temporary Protected Status. Individuals from countries that the U.S. government has determined cannot return to their home country safely can apply for temporary protected status in 18-month increments. Work authorization depends on whether the TPS designation is extended AND whether the underlying application for protection is approved.
  1. Individuals with pending applications before the immigration court, such as Cancellation or Removal, may also qualify for work authorization. However, should your case get administratively closed, it is essential that you have evidence that the application for relief has been received by the court in the form of a date stamp to ensure your ongoing ability to renew your work authorization. If a case is dismissed or terminated because the application will no longer be pending with the court, the ability to extend or renew work authorization will cease. If you are still unsure if you qualify for a work permit and want to have your case evaluated, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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