What Does the USCIS Case Status “Case Approved” Mean for My Form I-765 Work Permit Application?

In a Nutshell

If your USCIS case status says, “Case Was Approved,” congratulations! This means USCIS has reviewed your application, determined your eligibility, and decided to grant your Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization (work permit application). You’ll often see several statuses prior to approval as your case progresses, and it can take a long time for USCIS to process and approve your application. It takes an average of 2-7 months for USCIS to process and approve work permits. This article explains the case approval process with USCIS and what happens after your case is approved.

Written by Paige Hooper
Updated February 6, 2023

My USCIS Case Status Says, “Case Approved.” What Does That Mean for My Form I-765 Work Permit Application?

An “approved” case status is possibly the most exciting status update that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues. It means that USCIS approved your Form I-765 work permit application and will issue your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also known as your work permit. Congratulations — your hard work and months of waiting have paid off! 

How Will I Know My Application Has Been Approved?

When USCIS approves your work permit application, it will update the case status to “Case Approved” or “Case Was Approved.” You’ll see this status when you log in to your USCIS account or track your case status. USCIS will also send you a Form I-797B: Notice of Action by mail. This is your official notice of the approval.

When Should I Look For a “Case Approved” Status?

An “Approved” status means USCIS is finished reviewing and processing your EAD application. This won’t be your final status update, though. You’ll get another update when USCIS mails your work permit to you. Because approval is one of the last steps in the application process, don’t expect to see this status right away after submitting your application. Your case will likely go through several status updates before your application is approved. Some common case statuses include:

  • Received: Your initial case status lets you know that USCIS has received your application and is mailing you a receipt notice. If you submitted your application to a lockbox, your status may say “Case Accepted By the USCIS Lockbox” instead of “Case Was Received.”

  • Evidence Request: If your case status says “Request for Additional Evidence Sent,” USCIS needs something from you before it can finish processing your application. You’ll get a notice in the mail with more instructions. 

  • Expedite Request: If you’ve filed a request to expedite your case, the status “Expedite Request Received” lets you know USCIS has your request.

  • Fingerprints/Biometrics: USCIS may need to schedule an appointment to get your fingerprints or other biometric data if you haven’t already provided it. You may see status updates related to this appointment, such as “Fingerprint and Biometrics Appointment Was Scheduled” or “Case Was Updated To Show Fingerprints Were Taken.”

  • Interview: USCIS may need to interview you before it can approve your EAD application. You may see status updates related to the interview, such as “Case is Ready to Be Scheduled for An Interview,” “Interview Was Scheduled,” or “Interview Was Completed And My Case Must Be Reviewed.”

  • Appeal: If USCIS denied your application and you appeal the denial, your case status might say “Case Was Reopened for Consideration.” This situation is somewhat rare, and for an appeal, you’ll usually be working with a lawyer.

Does “Case Approved” Mean the Same Thing as “Case Received”?

No, though these two terms are often confused. If your USCIS status uses the word “Approved,” that means USCIS has finished reviewing your EAD application and has decided to grant your work permit. In other words, you’ve almost reached the end of the application process. By contrast, you’ll see “Case Was Received” at the beginning of the process when USCIS has received your application and is preparing to review it.

To make things even more confusing, if you submitted your Form I-765 application to a lockbox, your initial status would say “Case Accepted By the USCIS Lockbox.” In that case, “accepted” means the same thing as “received.” It does not mean the same thing as “approved.”

USCIS Approved My Work Permit Application. Now What?

First, you’ll receive an official USCIS notice of the approval (Form I-797B) in the mail. But this approval notice doesn’t authorize you to work in the United States. Before you can legally start working, you must wait for your EAD card to arrive. USCIS typically mails these out within about 3-10 days after mailing your approval notice. When your card has been mailed, USCIS will post the USPS tracking number for your card to your USCIS account.

The only way to receive your EAD card is by mail, so be sure USCIS has your correct mailing address on file. If you move while your application is in process, you must update your address with USCIS. Filing a change of address or mail forwarding form with the USPS doesn’t update your address in the USCIS system. The following case statuses are red flags that USCIS might not have your current address:

  • Card Was Determined As Undeliverable By The Post Office

  • Card Is Being Returned to USCIS by Post Office

  • Card (or Document) Was Returned to USCIS

If your work permit card is lost or is delivered to the wrong address, try contacting USCIS first.

How Can I Track USCIS Case Status Changes?

USCIS has approved your work permit application, and that’s certainly cause for celebration, but you’ll still need to keep an eye on your case status until you have your EAD card in hand. Some common status updates you may see after your case is approved include:

  • New Card Is Producing

  • Card Was Mailed To Me

  • Card Was Picked Up By The United States Postal Service

  • Card Was Delivered To Me By The Post Office

Staying on top of these status changes helps you know where your card is and allows you to take action right away if there’s a problem. You can check your case status online through your USCIS account or you can check your status with the USCIS case tracking tool using only your 13-digit receipt number. As always, USCIS will continue to send notice of status updates by mail as well.

Do I Need an Immigration Attorney To Get My Work Permit Application Approved?

Since USCIS has already approved your EAD application, you probably don’t need to hire an attorney at this point. But if your application wasn’t approved, you may want to speak with an attorney to figure out what went wrong and what you can do about it. You might also need to contact a lawyer if it’s taking much longer than the usual processing times to get your application approved or to receive your card after approval. In this case, though, try contacting USCIS first to see if they can resolve the delay.