Having an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is one way to prove that you are authorized to work in the US. To request an EAD, you must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. You will need to apply for an EAD if you:
- Are authorized to work in the US because of your immigration status or circumstances (for example, you are an asylee, refugee, or U nonimmigrant) and need evidence of that employment authorization, or
- Are required to apply for permission to work (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 nonimmigrant 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).
State fees for an EAD differ case by case and are $400-500 approximately. You have an opportunity to request a fee waiver based on a demonstrated inability to pay. USCIS will approve a fee waiver only if you clearly demonstrate that you are unable to pay the state fees. But not in every case you should try to save money as it all depends on the main case on which you are applying for EAD, for example:
- A person arrives in the US with an E-2 visa (principal applicant, spouse) and requests a fee waiver. First, most likely, a fee waiver will not be approved. Second, this can significantly harm the E-2 process for the principal applicant’s spouse. Why? Because this situation contradicts the terms of the E-2 visa. The person has started a business and must prove that they have the financial ability to support themselves even if the business does not work and, at the same time, cannot pay $400-500 for an EAD.
The person is in the process of Pending TPS or Pending Asylum. In this case, we often request a fee waiver and get approved.