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Can I Work in the United States While I’m Waiting for My Green Card?

Upon arriving in the United States, foreigners are expected to abide by the conditions stipulated on their visas. In many cases, this means not being allowed to work or generate income while staying in the country, but this prohibition can be lifted under certain circumstances. The first aspect to consider in this regard is whether you arrived in the U.S. under an immigrant or non-immigrant visa.

Non-immigrant foreigners are generally not allowed to work unless their visas were specifically issued for that purpose. An example of this would be skilled technology workers who come to the country under the H-1B program. With immigrant foreigners, there’s an expectation that they may want to join the vast American workforce at some point in their lives, but they must first be authorized to do so. Similarly, refugees who apply for asylum in the U.S. must first go through the process of obtaining authorization to work.

When a foreigner submits a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it’s understood that his or her goal is to get a green card at some point. When USCIS case managers receive this form, the status of the applicant will change to that of a foreigner awaiting AOS, which means he or she must remain in the country. Even if they were previously able to work, foreigners awaiting AOS aren’t initially authorized to do so. Let’s say a male information security expert from Kenya was allowed to work through the H-1B program before marrying an American woman. Once the American sponsors her husband for residency, his status will no longer be non-immigrant, and he will have to get a work permit.

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is the document that must be submitted to USCIS to obtain a work permit. The filing fee for this form as of 2019 is $410. Upon approval, an EAD card will be issued, and the next step would be to obtain a social security number for the purpose of getting hired. Even if the applicant only intends to work as a freelancer, the social security number would work out better than a taxpayer ID number.

EAD cards are usually good for a couple of years before they must be renewed. If for some reason you need to renew this work permit two years after its issuance, this is a sign your Form I-485 application is taking far too long to process, which should prompt you to consult with San Diego immigration attorneys. Something else to keep in mind is that the conditional residence card issued to some immigrants before the green card is all you need to start working. If you’re awaiting AOS based on marriage and can afford to wait a few months before you start working, you may simply wait for your status to be adjusted so you can apply for jobs with a conditional or permanent residence card.

If you need information on immigration services in San Diego, contact KS Visa Law today. From family immigration law to naturalization, we can address your immigration-related needs. Call 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

April 2024