work permit

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The I-766 employment authorization document (EAD), commonly referred to as the work permit, is a document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides temporary work authorization to noncitizens in the U.S. The EAD card is issued in the form of a standard credit card-size plastic card and contains a photo and some basic information about the individual authorized to work. 

As explained by the USCIS, you will need to apply for an EAD if you:

  • Are authorized to work in the United States because of your immigration status (for example, you are an asylee, refugee) and need evidence of that employment authorization, or
  • Are required to apply for permission to work; in other words, you need to request employment authorization itself. For example:
    • You have a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
    • You have a pending Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.
    • You have a non-immigrant status that allows you to be in the United States but does not allow you to work in the United States without first seeking permission from USCIS (such as an F-1 or M-1 student).

See: Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

[Last updated in September of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]