Immigration Documents to Work in the US
U.S. employers are required by law to verify that all employees are authorized to work in the United States, regardless of national origin or citizenship. Individuals who are not permanent residents or citizens of the United States can still be eligible for work in the U.S., although this does require completing several steps on the part of the employee and employer and acquiring proper documents.
There is a direct relationship between a foreign worker’s visa or immigration status in the U.S. and the type of documents he or she is issued by the USCIS.
Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
Form I-9 is used by employers to verify the identity and employment authorization of every person hired for work in the United States. All employers are required to ensure Form I-9 is completed for each new employee, citizens and noncitizens alike. Employers and employees must both complete the form and an employee must attest to his or her employment authorization in the U.S. and present his or her employer with acceptable documents proving identity and employment authorization.
Employers are required to note the type of documents a new hire produces and any expiration dates on the employee’s Form I-9.
Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record
Form I-94 shows the endorsement of an employer-specific visa classification and the unexpired period of admission. This type of document when approved grants temporary but restricted employment in the United States that is employer-specific. Foreign workers receive this form and must retain it along with their passports upon admission into the United States when the forms are stamped with the alien’s immigration classification and period of authorization to remain in the U.S.
To be acceptable as proof of work eligibility, the stamp on Form I-94 must specify that employment is authorized and provide an unexpired nonimmigration admission.
This form is used by foreign workers who are granted employer-specific work authorization visas under the following categories:
- A-1, A-2, and A-3
- C-2 and C-3
- E-1 and E-2
- F-1 in some cases
- G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, and G-5
- H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3
- L-1A and L-1B
- O-1 and O-2
- P-1, P-2, and P-3
I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
Many foreign nationals who are eligible to work in the United States need to submit form I-765 to request an employment authorization document (EAD). There are several ways in which someone can apply for and receive permission to work in the United States, but the appropriate category must be selected on your application.
With an approved I-765, a worker is eligible for an EAD for temporary but unrestricted employment in the United States.
Employment Authorization Document
Also known as a work permit, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) offers proof that someone who is not a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S. has the authorization to work in the country.
The EAD is issued as a standard-sized plastic card with additional security features which contains information about the individual such as name, immigrant category, country of birth, alien registration number, card number, restrictive terms, and validity dates. EADs are issued for a specific period of time.
Not all foreign nationals who are authorized to work qualify for an EAD as some statuses only authorize work with a certain employer, for example. The following immigrant categories are not eligible for an EAD:
- Temporary nonimmigrant workers who are employed by a sponsoring company with an H, I, L-1, or O-1 status
Foreign students with an F-1 nonimmigrant student status with working hour limitations who are pursuing on-campus employment, receiving curricular practical training for alternative study, are an exchange visitor employed by a sponsoring organization, or are a crew member working for a carrier.
The following documents are required to obtain an EAD:
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Copy of Form 1-94, nonimmigrant arrival and departure record
- Copy of government-issued ID such as a passport, birth certificate with photo ID, visa issued by a foreign consulate, or a national ID document with photo and/or fingerprint
- 2 identical photographs
- Proof of legal status such as Form I-94 that shows your admission in the H-4 visa category or your I-797 approval notice for form I-539 (extension of stay) under the H-4 visa category
Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney
If you have any questions about getting authorization to work in the United States as a foreign citizen, an experienced immigration lawyer can help. Contact Soliman Law Group for a free consultation with an immigration attorney in Los Angeles, California to discuss your case and explore your next steps.