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Form I-765 on a table ready to fill​
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How to File Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

Whether you are in the United States as a student, or you are seeking asylum or awaiting your Green Card, finding opportunities for legal work can play an important role in sustaining yourself.

Securing employment authorization is key — without it, you are not legally permitted to work in the U.S.

We will explain how to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, share the processing time, the eligibility categories under which you can apply and the cost.

Plus, we will introduce you to our law firm, The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, and explain how we can facilitate your journey towards working in the U.S.

Looking for an immigration lawyer?

Contact Spar & Bernstein

Bradford H. Bernstein

This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.

Bradford H. Bernstein

What Is Form I-765?

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization is a document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to foreign nationals in the United States who are requesting permission to work legally in the country, while waiting to receive lawful permanent resident status (a Green Card).

If you do not have an immigration status that allows you to work in the U.S. (for example, H1-B), you are not permitted to work until you receive your employment authorization.

Once your application is approved and you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you can use it as a proof that you are eligible to work in the U.S.

EAD is also known as an Employment Authorization Card or a Work Permit.

Who Can File Form I-765?

There are numerous eligibility categories for filing Form I-765. These include:

  • Adjustment of status applicants
  • Family-based nonimmigrant visa holders, such as K-1 and K-3 visa holders
  • Asylees
  • Refugees
  • Deferred action applicants, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Student visa holders, such as F-1, J-2 and M-1 visa holders
  • VAWA self-petitioners
  • Dependents of diplomatic missions, international organizations and NATO

If you’re not sure if you fit into any of these categories, reach out to our experienced and compassionate immigration attorneys at Spar & Bernstein.

Established in 1958, our law firm manages various aspects of immigration law, from family and employment immigration to DACA and asylum and refugee protection.

By handling your case with the utmost care, we will determine your eligibility for filing I-765 and help you with the process.

An immigration lawyer with a client​
Our immigration team at Spar & Bernstein will determine whether you are eligible to file Form I-765​

How To Apply For Form I-765

From determining your eligibility for I-765 to attending a possible interview, applying for I-765 includes several important stages.

To apply for Form I-765:

1. Determine Your Eligibility

The first step is to make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for filing Form I-765. This may include having a specific immigration status or under certain visa categories.

2. Gather The Required Documents

Collect all necessary supporting documents, including:

  • Your passport
  • Two recent passport-style photographs, in color
  • A copy of Form I-94 , your Arrival/Departure Record

Depending on the category under which you are applying, you will need to submit additional documents to support your application.

3. Complete Form I-765

Fill out Form I-765 by providing required personal information, like your immigration status details.

If you want to receive electronic notifications about your application status, complete and attach Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance.

Pay the filing fee and mail the completed Form I-765, along with all supporting documents, to the designated USCIS address provided in the form’s instructions.

4. Wait For Receipt Notice

After you file Form I-765, USCIS will send you a receipt notice to confirm receipt of your application and filing fee payment. This notice includes a receipt number that allows you to track your case status.

5. Attend An Interview & Biometrics Appointment

Based on your application, USCIS may request that you attend an interview.

If USCIS requires fingerprints and a photograph for background and security checks, they will ask for this information at the interview or at another time specified in their appointment notice. They will also provide you with the biometrics appointment location.

6. Receive A Decision Notice

Once your application is processed, you will receive a decision notice stating whether your request for employment authorization has been approved or denied.

If your application is approved, USCIS will either:

  • Mail your EAD
  • Require you to pick up your EAD from a local office

If your application is denied, USCIS will explain why. Reasons that your I-765 application might be denied include:

  • Incomplete or inaccurate information on your application
  • Failure to provide required supporting documentation
  • Filing under an ineligible or incorrect category
  • Violation of the terms of your current nonimmigrant status
  • Criminal history or issues related to security or public safety
  • Failure to respond to a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS

To minimize the risk of denial of Form I-765, partner with our experienced immigration team at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernsten. We will make sure your application is completed accurately and accompanied by the additional documents required.

Need help with your application?

Contact Spar & Bernstein

Form I-765 Cost

As of 2023, the cost of filing Form I-765 is $410.

Some categories might be eligible for an exemption from the filing fee — for example:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Victims of severe forms of trafficking
  • Victims of qualifying criminal activity

You have the option to submit the filing fee through:

  • A money order
  • A personal check
  • A cashier’s check
  • A credit card by using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions

If you opt for payment by check, make sure the check is payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to the filing fee, you will need to pay a biometrics services fee of $85 if:

  • Your employment-based immigrant petition is approved, and you are experiencing compelling circumstances
  • You are the spouse or unmarried dependent child of a person with an approved employment-based immigrant petition, and you are facing compelling circumstances
  • You are applying for long-term resident status in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

Note that as per the proposed rule on increasing filing fees announced in early 2023, the fee for filing Form I-765 might increase to $650 due to the expansion of humanitarian programs, higher demand and need for more employees.

Work with our knowledgeable immigration team at Spar & Bernstein to find info on the current costs and potential changes to required documents.

Form I-765 Processing Time

The processing time for Form I-765 can take between 3 and 24 months, depending on the eligibility category under which you filed your application and the field office or service center where it was filed.

The processing time indicated on the USCIS website is determined by the duration it took to finalize 80% of adjudicated cases in the previous six months.

Because each case is unique, some applications can take longer to process than others. The estimated time should be accepted as a general guideline.

A man checking a planner on his phone​
The time it takes to process your application for employment authorization can vary depending on the service center and your eligibility category​

Need Help With Form I-765? Contact Spar & Bernstein

Whether you are seeking employment authorization as an asylee, student or VAWA petitioner, our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Spar & Bernstein are well-versed in the intricacies of immigration law.

We offer personalized consultations to assess your unique situation and ensure that your application is tailored to meet the requirements of your category.

From gathering necessary documentation to completing Form I-765, our tenacious attorneys work diligently to streamline the application process and maximize the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Our commitment goes beyond collecting and filing paperwork. We stay on top of the latest updates and changes in immigration policies, to make sure your application is aligned with current regulations.

Recognizing the importance of timely and effective feedback, we keep you informed about the progress of your case and address your concerns every step of the way.

Work with our team to get your Employment Authorization.

Contact Spar & Bernstein

FAQs About Form I-765

Have more questions about your Application for Employment Authorization? Check out our FAQs on Form I-765 below.

Can I work while Form I-765 is pending?

If you have an eligible immigration status, you might have the right to work for a specific period of time while your application is pending. Check the limitations for your eligibility category with our immigration team at Spar & Bernstein.

What is the validity period of my employment authorization?

The validity period of your employment authorization can vary based on your eligibility category. Check your EAD for the exact validity.

Can I apply for Form I-765 if I am a dependent of a visa holder?

Yes, certain dependent visa categories, such as H-4 or L-2, allow spouses and unmarried children to apply for employment authorization using Form I-765. Schedule a consultation with our team at Spar & Bernstein to understand your options.

Can I apply for Form I-765 if I am a student on an F-1 visa?

Yes, F-1 students can be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and can use Form I-765 to apply for employment authorization during or after their studies.

Can I apply for Form I-765 if I am in the U.S. on a tourist visa (B-1/B-2)?

If you are in the U.S. on a tourist visa, you are not eligible for employment authorization.

Can I renew my Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?

In some cases, you can apply to renew your EAD. It’s important to submit your renewal application before the current EAD expires. Work with Spar & Bernstein to make sure you meet all deadlines.

Need help with your application?

Contact Spar & Bernstein