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Work Authorization 101: What You Should Know

Work Authorization 101: What You Should Know

Just because you may live in the United States, it doesn’t mean you can legally work here. You must become work authorized to hold your dream job in the U.S.


What does becoming work authorized mean and how do you receive this status? Here are a few things you should know about becoming work authorized in the United States and the process to qualify.


What Does it Mean to Receive Work Authorization? 


Work authorized is essentially an individuals’ employment eligibility. If you are born in the United States and are a natural-born citizen, you are automatically eligible and authorized to work in the country. You do not need to fill out any additional paperwork or go through extensive processes to claim this eligibility. However, if you are a foreign citizen, you must become work authorized to legally work.  

Who Is Eligible? 

 If you are not a natural-born citizen in the United States, there are many things you can do to claim work authorization. There are three categories you can fall in to become eligible for work authorization. 

  1. You may be eligible due to your current immigration status. For example, you meet this status immediately if you can show your Permanent Resident Card, which is also known as a green card. 
  1. Specific employers may be able to hire you regardless of your immigration status. 
  1. You may fill out certain paperwork to request work authorization. 

It is important to note that not every group of immigrants is eligible to receive work authorization. If you have any questions or concerns regarding work authorization status, it is in your best interest to hire an immigration lawyer who can answer all of your questions. He or she can also ensure you have the proper paperwork to fill out and you do it correctly to avoid any delays in receiving your eligibility decision.  

What Paperwork Can I Fill Out? 

To request eligibility, you must fill out an application – an employment authorization form — which is file form I-765. You will need to fill out this form in its entirety and according to the specific instructions. Keep in mind that the form must be filled out prior to beginning any employment in the United States. 

There are also fees you may be required to pay to file and process the paperwork. Furthermore, in some situations, you may be required to provide additional documentation. Follow the instructions on the paperwork to determine if you must provide these items.

After you have submitted the proper paperwork and have paid any required fees, you will receive a receipt showing that all steps have been completed and received. You will then wait for the decision. 

Understanding the work authorization process and the steps you must take can be challenging. Small mistakes can delay your decision and you may not know if additional paperwork, fees, and more apply to you. If you have any questions, working with an immigration lawyer may be ideal.