Can You Work While Waiting for a Green Card?

Navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration laws can be challenging, especially when it comes to employment while waiting for a green card. San Diego, known for its thriving economy and diverse job market, attracts many immigrants seeking to build a new life. If you’re in the process of obtaining a green card, understanding your work rights is crucial. This blog will cover the essentials of working while waiting for a green card, including relevant facts, reasons for specific regulations, and emerging trends in immigration policy.

Understanding Work Authorization

Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also known as a work permit, is the primary means for immigrants to legally work in the U.S. while waiting for their green card. The EAD is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and allows you to work for any employer in the country.

Who Needs an EAD?

  1. Applicants for Adjustment of Status: If you’re in the U.S. and applying for a green card, you can apply for an EAD simultaneously with your adjustment of status application.
  2. Certain Nonimmigrant Visa Holders: Some nonimmigrant visa categories, such as the H-4 visa for spouses of H-1B workers, may qualify for an EAD.

H-1B and L-1 Visa Holders

H-1B and L-1 visa holders already have work authorization through their visas and do not need an EAD. They can continue to work for their sponsoring employer while their green card application is processed.

Application Process

Steps to Obtain an EAD

  1. File Form I-765: Submit this form to USCIS, along with supporting documents and the required fee.
  2. Biometrics Appointment: You may need to attend a biometrics appointment where your fingerprints, photo, and signature are collected.
  3. Approval: Once approved, you will receive your EAD, allowing you to work legally in the U.S.

Processing Times

Processing times for EAD applications can vary, but it typically takes about 3 to 7 months. It’s advisable to apply for your EAD as soon as you file for adjustment of status to avoid any gaps in employment.

Legal Implications

Unauthorized Employment

Working without proper authorization can have severe consequences, including:

  1. Denial of Green Card Application: Unauthorized employment can lead to the denial of your green card application.
  2. Deportation: Engaging in unauthorized work can result in removal proceedings.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers are required to verify the work authorization of all employees. Hiring someone without valid work authorization can lead to fines and legal penalties for the employer.

Emerging Trends in Immigration Policy

Policy Changes

The U.S. immigration landscape is constantly evolving, with policy changes that can impact work authorization for green card applicants. Recent trends include:

  1. Increased Scrutiny: There has been an increase in the scrutiny of immigration applications, including work permits.
  2. Expedited Processing: Efforts to reduce processing times for EAD applications are underway, which may benefit applicants in the near future.

Remote Work

The rise of remote work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has introduced new dynamics into the employment landscape. While remote work offers flexibility, it does not change the requirement for legal work authorization. Immigrants must still obtain an EAD to work remotely for a U.S. employer.

Practical Advice

Plan Ahead

Given the potential delays in obtaining an EAD, it’s essential to plan ahead. File your EAD application as early as possible to ensure you receive your work permit before your current authorization expires.

Consult an Immigration Attorney

Navigating the complexities of immigration law can be daunting. Consulting an immigration attorney can provide you with personalized guidance and help you avoid pitfalls.

Stay Informed

Keep up with the latest immigration policies and trends. Changes in policy can directly impact your work authorization and green card process.


Working while waiting for a green card in San Diego is possible, but it requires careful planning and adherence to legal requirements. Obtaining an EAD is a critical step for most green card applicants, and understanding the process can help you avoid complications. As immigration policies continue to evolve, staying informed and consulting with professionals can help you navigate this journey successfully.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This field is required.

You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">html</abbr> tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*This field is required.