EAD cards, also known as employment authorization documents, are a term recruiters and HR professionals come across often. Many times people aren’t sure whether or not they provide sufficient work authorization for employees. The short answer to that question is that EAD cardholders do not require employer sponsorship to work, as they are independently eligible for work authorization.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has over 40 categories for U.S. EAD cards eligibility.
Examples of these categories include:
- Green card applicants who have a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Spouses of certain employment-based nonimmigrant visa holders (e.g., E-1, E-2, select H-1B)
- F-1 students taking part in an Optional Practical Training program
- Individuals eligible for Deferred Action
- K-1 Fiance visa holders
- Citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau
It’s important that both employers and employees understand the purpose and limitations of the card. EAD cards are temporary work permits. Therefore, the EAD cardholder should be aware of the card’s expiration date and initiate the process to renew the EAD card well before that date, since one must have the new card in-hand in order to continue working.
USCIS allows the renewal application to be submitted no sooner than 120 days before the original expiration date. Once the applicant is hired, an I-9 must be completed in order to verify the applicant’s identity and work authorization. If the employee presents the card for the I-9, this serves as a List A document and no further documentation is needed. Section 3 (Reverification) of the I-9 should then be completed whenever a renewed card is obtained. This card is not a green card, and should not be confused with permanent work authorization.
For more information on employment authorization documents, contact us or visit USCIS.