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What is Form I-765?

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February 4, 2022

Key Takeaways

Form I-765 is one of the main forms for applying for a work permit. To receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you need to file Form I-765 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This article explains Form I-765, including what it is, how it’s used, who can file it, how to complete it, what supporting documents to include, and how much it costs.

Table of Contents

What is Form I-765?

Form I-765 is officially called the “Application for Employment Authorization.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses this form to collect information from people applying for work authorization to assess whether or not they are eligible for a work permit. You can’t receive a work permit (Employment Authorization Document or “EAD”) without filing Form I-765 with USCIS. Without work authorization, you can’t work for any employer in the United States. When USCIS processes and approves your Form I-765 application, they will issue you a card that you can use as evidence of your qualification to work for employers in the United States. You’ll also use Form I-765 to renew an expired EAD or to replace a missing or damaged EAD.

Who can file Form I-765?

Not everyone is eligible to file Form I-765. You can only file an I-765 application if you’re eligible to get a work permit in the United States. People who qualify for work permits include:

  • People with a pending adjustment of status application. If you’re applying for your green card through consular processing, you can’t apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You’ll wait to receive your green card and use that to prove your eligibility to work in the United States.
  • F-1 students applying for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT extension.
  • People with a pending asylum application.
  • Dreamers requesting or renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • People applying for T-visa and U-visa status.
  • People applying for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) long-term resident status.

How to complete Form I-765

Form I-765 is straightforward to complete as long as you follow the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) filing instructions. There are 6 parts to the form and each asks for different information.

Part 1  

This part of the form asks your reason for applying for a work permit - either for initial permission to work (a first-time card), to renew an old one, or to replace one you’ve lost.

Part 2 

Here, you’ll provide identifying biographical and other information about you, like your full name, your physical address and mailing address, and your gender. It will ask for your marital status, and your travel history information, including your I-94 number and when you reported to a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer. It also asks for your date of birth, your immigration status, and your country of origin.

You’ll need your alien registration number (A-number), receipt number from relevant receipt notices and approval notices from USCIS, Social Security Number (SSN), and USCIS Online Account number, if you have one. If you don’t already have a Social Security Card, you can choose to register with the Social Security Administration on this part of the form.

You will also have to specify the eligibility category code for your application in this part of the form. For example, the eligibility code for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is (c) (33).  USCIS provides a full list of codes for the different categories that you could enter onto the form.

Part 3

Here, you will indicate whether you read and filled out the form on your own, or if you had help from an interpreter. Then you will sign and date the form in wet black ink (not blue). You have to use a pen for this - you can’t type it in.

Part 4

If any interpreter helped with your application, they must sign and date this part of the form. They’ll also provide their name and contact details.

Part 5

If somebody else prepared your forms on your behalf, they must sign and date this part of the form. If they have a business, they have to provide business information as well. If your interpreter was also your preparer then they will fill both Part 4 and Part 5 of the form. If a lawyer prepared your forms for you, they’ll have to submit a signed Form G-28 in addition to your I-765 package.

Part 6

Part 6 provides extra space for you to include any additional information or expand on an answer you provided. If you need more than one page, you can make photocopies of Part 6 only and use them. You’ll have to write your Page Number, Part Number, and Item Number at the top of every extra page you use, and then sign and date each page.

How much does it cost to file Form I-765?

When you file Form I-765, you must also pay a $410 government processing fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You may have to pay an additional $85 biometric fee if you’re applying for a work permit based on:

  • a pending asylum application
  • a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application 
  • an approved employment-based visa, or
  • a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) long-term resident status application

Outside of these categories, you’ll only pay the $410 fee to USCIS. Only DACA applicants - both initial and renewal - and CNMI long-term resident applicants do not qualify for fee waivers for any of their fees. All other Form I-765 applicants are welcome to apply for fee waivers. If your application doesn’t qualify for a waiver, you may find our tips for affording USCIS filing fees helpful.

If your application is going to a USCIS service center, you can pay with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. If you’ll be mailing your application to a USCIS lockbox, you’re also welcome to pay with a credit card. All checks must be payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (not to “DHS” or “USDHS”) and must be in the exact amount that you have to pay. If you’re confused about how much you should pay, you can use the USCIS fee calculator to find out. To pay by credit card, you must attach a completed and signed Form G-1450 to your application. Without this form, USCIS will not process your credit card payment.

Do you need to include any supporting documents with Form I-765?

In addition to the relevant filing fees, you’ll need to include some supporting documents with Form I-765 when you file it with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

The documents you need will depend on the work permit eligibility category you’re applying under. The USCIS website has a full, comprehensive list of the specific documents they want from you based on your eligibility category. For example, F-1 students will need to provide evidence of full-time enrollment, their Form I-20, SEVIS ID number, and OPT authorization. Those submitting a STEM OPT application extension will also have to provide some E-verify information about their employers. And marriage green card applicants may need to provide birth certificates and marriage certificates. You should check out the USCIS list of documents webpage for what you’ll need to submit with your Form I-765.

However, all applicants must submit these documents:

  • Two recent passport-sized photographs
  • A photocopy of your most recent EAD card if you have or ever had one (for example, as an international student applying for post-completion OPT). If you never received an EAD, you should include a photocopy of a government-issued identity document
  • A photocopy of your Form I-94 (front and back) or a copy of your passport or travel document

You’ll mail this to USCIS together with the other documents specific to your case. Remember not to send in any original documents - you will not get them back and the U.S. government will not be liable for any missing documents. It’s important to make copies of your entire application package, including Form I-765, the filing fees, and the supporting documents for your personal records. You may need to refer to them in the future.

Conclusion

Getting a work permit can be complicated especially if you’re filing concurrently with a green card or DACA application, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your green card, DACA, and work permit case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!

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