VIDEO: Can anyone just come to the US and begin working?

Can any immigrant just go ahead and start working in the United States? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney practicing law here in St Louis, Missouri. The general rule is that you cannot work in the United States without written authorization from the immigration service. The way you get that authorization is through what’s called an EAD, an Employment Authorization Document. It’s a little card. It’s a red card that looks sort of like a Green Card, but it is the proof that the individual has the right to work in the United States.

There are various ways that people can obtain work authorization. We’re going to talk about a few of them today in this video. The typical way we see work authorization is when someone applies for a Green Card. When you apply for a Green Card by being the spouse of a US citizen, you typically have to wait several months for that Green Card interview. To overcome this and to allow immigrant spouses to start working ahead of time, you can file an I765 along with your Green Card application. That means that you can file the application to work and get authorization to work in the United States before actually getting your Green Card.  Being just an adjustment to status applicant allows you to get work authorization.

Another way to get a work authorization card is if you are a student and you apply for what’s called optional practical training or OPT training. If you are approved for OPT training, you maintain your F1 status, that student status, but you’re still given the opportunity to get a work authorization card and to work for up to a year on your original OPT. Then if you are in one of the STEM categories, you are allowed to get a second OPT extension for another 17 months.

Another way that you can get a work authorization card is if you are here and applied for asylum. If you have a pending a asylum case and have been here for 5 months, you are allowed to apply for work authorization. Without a work authorization card, you’re not going to be able to work in the United States. If you work in the United States without one, that’s a violation of federal law and can get you deported, so it’s something you really want to avoid.

Employment authorization is obviously a great benefit for our clients. We do whatever we can to help them get work authorization. If you have questions about the work authorization process or what documents you need to submit in support of your I765 or what the filing fee is, we have a lot of that information on the website. But if you have specific questions about your case, feel free to pick up the phone and give us a call: 314-961-8200. Or you can email me: Thanks.