If you reside in the United States and want to work but your green card isn’t ready, you’ll need a work permit. The green card consular processing naturally takes a while to be ready; you may even have to wait several months to process it.

The good news is that while you wait, you are eligible to apply for and receive a work permit. The USCIS issues the work permit, also known as an EAD document (Employment Authorization Document) to let you work.

The employment authorization card looks like a driver’s license and can serve as a photo ID issued by the USCIS. You’ll present it as evidence that you’re authorized to work in the United States for a certain period.

This article will address some of the questions regarding obtaining work authorization while the marriage visa application processing tarries. While you register permanent residence and get a work permit yourself, we recommend working with immigration attorney services to avoid costly mistakes.

Is It Okay to Work While Waiting for My Green Card?

You can work while you wait for your marriage-based green card, provided you have employment authorization or a valid work visa. However, that depends on certain factors, including whether you’re related to a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

If you’re married to a US citizen, you would typically apply for the work permit as part of the initial green card application package. However, if you’re married to a green card holder, you need to wait until you’re eligible to apply for a green card.

What Is the Time Duration to Get a Green Card After Marriage?

The processing time for a foreign spouse to get a green card depends on whether they live abroad or in the U.S. If the applicant is a U.S. citizen, they’ll need to submit an application to adjust the status with the green card application. Adjustment of status involves two broad steps that take ten to thirteen months in total. However, with the help of a reputable immigration law firm, you can speed up the adjustment of the status process.

If the immigrant spouse lives outside the US, the application takes eleven to seventy months in four steps that review details of the alien relative. If your green card application is pending, a good attorney-client relationship can help you hasten the process.

How Soon After Marrying a U.S. Citizen Can I Work?

After you’ve married a U.S. citizen, it’ll take five to seven months to start work, and that’s after you have received a receipt notice on your green card application. You can submit form I-765 along with Form I-485 to save time and reduce the time it’ll take to start work. However, if you prefer to submit form I-485 first, that is still fine.

It generally takes five to six months to get employment authorization and start work. For someone who married a lawful permanent resident, it takes even longer – typically between nineteen and twenty-five months.

What Happens If You Work Without a Permit?

Most U.S. employers will ask you for your work permit before they can employ you. Thus, finding a job without a work permit or a valid nonimmigrant work visa may be challenging, but not impossible.

If you do get a job without authorization, you and your employer will be in serious trouble if caught. There are heavy penalties involved with infringement of any US immigration law, including working without a work permit.

It doesn’t take very long to get the EAD after marriage, so it’s better to be patient and work legally. Seeking unauthorized employment can injure your immigration status – sometimes irrevocably.

Can You Travel Back to Your Home Country While Waiting for Your Marriage-Based Green Card?

If you want to go back to your home country to work while your marriage-based green card application is pending, you can apply for a work visa. However, you need to obtain a travel permit before you travel abroad to avoid being considered for green card process abandonment.

Traveling without the permit will be considered as such and you’ll need to restart the whole process where you have to apply for a work permit and wait for it to be processed.

The travel permit or advance parole travel document and work permit take long processing times. Meanwhile, you can work in the United States or return to your home country with both permits while your green card expires.

Will You Still Need a Work Permit after Obtaining Your Marriage Green Card

The work permit or EAD is a temporary means of getting employed in the U.S. without your green card. You don’t need the document once you have your green card; that’s one of the benefits attached to the marriage-based green card.

If you’re obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, for example, you’ll need to work for a particular employer to keep the status. Valid green card holders can work anywhere and for almost any employer in the United States.

Form I-765 Explained: How Can You Obtain an EAD?

If you want to work in the U.S. while waiting for your conditional green card, you’ll fill Form I-765 to obtain a work permit. Form I-765 is officially called Application for Employment Authorization; with a permit, you can prove to a potential employer that you’re eligible to work.

You can find a copy of this form on the USCIS website. However, after filling this form, you will need to prove that you are a citizen living in a particular location. The work permit application should come with your travel document and any other document that will facilitate the work permit application and make the processing time faster.

As one of the departments of immigration services, USCIS ensures that application of anyone applying for an EAD card is reviewed. If after reviewing the applicant’s case status the department is satisfied, it can go on to issue the EAD card.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) typically takes about 150 to 210 days to process work permits. However, certain factors can hinder the processing times. Location, type of work to be done, and validity of your work permits, and the employment authorization document are all factors that can affect the processing time and determine how fast you will become a green card holder.

You’ll pay a filing fee of $410 for Form I-765, but it varies depending on the situation; it’ll increase if you’re submitting biometrics. If your application is pending, it may be because you have blank immigration forms somewhere in your application or there is an advance parole the government agency is investigating.

Who Is Required to Pay a Biometrics Fee?

Biometrics appointment cost an additional $85, which brings the total work permit filing fee to $495.

The following categories of people will be required to pay an additional $85 biometrics fee:

  • DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,
  • Unmarried child or spouse of a principal approved employment-based immigration petition beneficiary, and
  • The main beneficiary of an approved employment-based petition facing compelling issues.

How Can You Know You’re Eligible for a Work Permit?

You’re eligible for a work permit if you are eligible for a family-based green card. You can apply for a work permit provided you’ve started your green card status application, even if it is still pending.

You can file Form I-765 any time after the USCIS has sent a notice that it has received your green card application. To file immigration Forms I-765 and I-485, you only need to include it with two passport-sized photos in the package.

Who Doesn’t Have to Pay a Filing Fee for a Work Permit?

You can find a full list of categories of people exempt from paying the work permit fee on the Form I-765 written instructions. You’re exempt from paying a work permit application filing fee if you include it in your Adjustment of Status package.

You can also request for a waiver if you can’t pay the fee by submitting Form I-912 and supporting documentation with your I-765.

Can You Submit Your Form I-765 for Work Permit Authorization Separately?

Green card applicants often forget to file an I-765 with their status adjustment petition because the work permit is optional. You can file the form separately, but ensure you submit it to the right service center.

You’ll need to submit the Form I-765 with a copy of your form I-485 receipt of notice along with other documents.

What Supporting Documents Do You Need to File with Form I-765?

When filing your Form I-765 for work permit, you’ll need to do so with the following documents besides the form I-485 receipt notice:

  • Two passport photographs with a copy of any government-issued identity document containing your immigrant visa number,
  • A copy of your I-94, Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Record, front and back,
  • If an  immigration lawyer is representing you, you need form A-G28,
  • I-797C Notice of action with proof of your current nonimmigrant status, and
  • Proof of your bona fide marriage with your LPR (lawful permanent resident) or U.S. citizen spouse.

Let Herman Legal Group Help With Your Work Authorization

Have you looked everywhere but don’t seem to get a hang of the employment authorization? If your permanent residence or green card application is pending, you need a good immigration attorney to help you navigate the murky waters, and that is what Herman Legal Group can do for you.

To get started, you will have to schedule a consultation with us via ZOOM, Skype, Facetime, Google Meet, or in-person by calling us on +1-216-696-6170. Alternatively, if you want a separate attorney agreement with Richard Herman, you can book online.


Applying for a work authorization is straightforward, but you have to follow direct filing instructions to avoid mistakes. The USCIS officer requires applicants for the Form I-765 to file their application with the local office that will process their petition.

If you’re filing your I-485 or any other form with Form I-765, file both at the specified address on the other form. Many benefits come with having a marriage based green card, including getting an advance parole.

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