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Form I-765 Processing Time: Everything You Need To Know

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Foreign nationals can apply for employment authorization to work in the United States using Form I-765, which is also referred to as "Application for Employment Authorization."

This form is used to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). With an EAD, you can work legally in the United States while your visa is being processed.

You may be blocked from entering the United States for up to ten years if you work illegally in the United States.

This article explains the I-765 processing time, including the following topics:

  • Eligibility categories for work permit application
  • The I-765 processing time
  • Expedited processing of EAD


What is Form I-765?

Form I-765, or Application for Employment Authorization, is a form used to request an EAD from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Its purpose is to request employment authorization from USCIS, so you can legally seek employment in the U.S.

Hacking Immigration Law, LLC can help you with your work permit application process.

Who Can File Form I-765?

To file Form I-765, you must meet specific requirements. You can only submit an I-765 application if you are eligible for a work permit in the United States.

The USCIS recognizes three types of eligibility for an employment authorization document:

  • Authorization based on your immigration status
  • Authorization to work for a specific employer as part of your nonimmigrant status
  • Authorization based on an immigration category that needs an EAD in addition to your visa

Generally, people who are eligible for work permits are the following:

  • F-1 students wishing to extend their Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT,
  • Applicants with pending adjustment of status,
  • Asylum applicants,
  • DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applicants and renewals,
  • Applicants for T-visa and U-visa status, and
  • People seeking long-term residency in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

If you apply for your green card via consular processing, you cannot obtain an EAD. You'll have to wait for your green card and use it to prove your eligibility to work in the U.S.


How To File Form I-765

Most work permit applicants submit Form I-765 along with their green card or visa application, allowing them to work while their application is being processed.

If you submit Form I-765 after submitting your green card application, you have to include a copy of your green card application receipt notice.

Ensure that you comply with Form I-765 filing instructions. Application for the I-765 form must be submitted to the service center handling the petition, per USCIS regulations.

Required documents for I-765 application

To process your work permit application form, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Copy of your I-94 travel record
  • Copy of your U.S. visa
  • Copy of your passport's photo page
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Copies of previous work permits, if any
  • Copy of marriage-based green card receipt notice

Additionally, you need to submit a copy of one of the following pieces of government-issued identification if you have never had a work permit before:

  • Birth certificate and a photo I.D.
  • Copy of a visa issued by another country's consulate except for the United States
  • Another national identity document that includes your photo or fingerprints

Processing Time for Form I-765

Acquiring an EAD is simpler and faster than obtaining a visa or green card. The processing time for I-765 is approximately 6 to 12 months, though this may vary depending on the service center.

A Request for Evidence (RFE) may also be issued, requiring you to provide additional documentation to support your application. You can expect the completion of the EAD process within 60 to 90 days after you submit the requested evidence.

You can expect a longer waiting time due to some factors, including the following:

  • the number of applications USCIS receive
  • USCIS workload and staffing allocations
  • policy and operational changes
  • the applicant's response time for requested additional documents or evidence

An immigration attorney can assist you in making your work permit application seamless. Hacking Immigration Law, LLC has experienced and skilled immigration lawyers who can guide you in processing your Form I-765.


USCIS processing time estimates

You can visit the USCIS website to check the status of your work permit application. The USCIS website also allows you to view the estimated processing time of a service center by following these steps:

  1. Go to the USCIS website.
  2. Choose Form I-765 from the drop-down menu.
  3. Select the "Form Category" applicable to you.
  4. Choose the Field Office or Service Center handling your case.
  5. Click on the "Get Processing Time" button.

The page will display the estimated USCIS processing time for your selected form, category, and service center.

For example, an EAD application of an F-1 academic student may take two months to process in the USCIS Potomac Service Center.

On the other hand, an individual with a pending I-485 adjustment application and applying for a work permit in the California Service Center may wait for 21 months.

Expedited Processing for Form I-765

In some cases, people may be unable to wait for an EAD. Thus, the USCIS allows individuals in certain situations to apply to expedite their EAD.

USCIS evaluates each expedited request individually and decides whether or not to approve it. If approved, the request moves the file closer to the adjudicating officer, but it does not expedite the review process or guarantee approval.

The USCIS has established specific criteria for who can apply to expedite their EAD. Cases are considered if one or more of the following criteria are met:

  • Emergencies and humanitarian emergencies;
  • Severe financial loss to a person or business that calls for immediate action;
  • A nonprofit organization (as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) with a request to develop and promote the United States' cultural and social interests;
  • U.S. government interests (such as urgent situations involving federal departments or agencies); or
  • Clear USCIS error.

How to request expedited processing

After receiving a receipt notice for your I-765 application, you may submit an expedited request with USCIS in the following ways:

  • Calling USCIS to request expedited processing,
  • Online chat with USCIS's online chat "Emma" and 
  • Submitting a written request for expedited processing along with your initial filing.

EAD Validity and Renewal

An EAD has a limited lifespan. Most work permits are valid for one year, but this can vary depending on the circumstances. To keep working in the United States, you must renew your EAD before it expires.

To renew your EAD, you must submit a new Form I-765 and a filing fee. If applicable, you may also request a fee waiver. Typically, you can renew your EAD less than 180 days before its expiration.

Your work permit expires the moment you receive your green card. You won't need a separate work permit because you are already a permanent resident.


Form I-765 Processing Delays

The most common reason for the delay in processing work authorization applications is the increasing backlogs in the USCIS service centers.

In March 2022, the USCIS established new internal cycle time goals to reduce the backlogs. These objectives serve as internal metrics that guide the agency on how quickly the agency processes cases.

Another issue that causes delays in work authorization applications is incomplete or incorrect information.

Here are some tips to avoid this mistake and prevent delays in your application:

  • Fill out your form completely. Do not forget to sign your name in the appropriate space on the form.
  • Use the most recent form edition from the USCIS website.
  • If you submitted the form online, you no longer need to mail it to USCIS.
  • Use black ink if you're writing your answers by hand. Check that everything you write on the form is legible.
  • Ensure all printed pages have the form's edition date and page numbers.
  • Fill out all the fields unless the form instructs you to skip one or more items.
  • Do not use highlighters, correction fluid, or tape. If you make a mistake, start over with a blank form.
  • Pay the appropriate filing fee. USCIS will reject forms with incorrect or incomplete fees.
  • Prepare the complete supporting documentation.
  • Send legible copies of official documents, but not the originals, unless specifically asked in the form instructions.
  • Additional questions on Form I-765 enable applicants to request a Social Security Number.

Applicants can submit a case inquiry if their I-765 application is pending longer than the processing time listed on the USCIS website for the handling service center.


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Getting work authorization in the U.S. is crucial so you can legally work there. Most employers won't employ you without a work permit.

Working without an EAD might jeopardize your ability to obtain a visa or maintain your permanent resident status.

The I-765 processing time may vary depending on your case and assigned service center. Delays can happen, so it is essential to monitor the progress of your application. You can visit the USCIS website for more details about filing Form I-765.

If you need assistance with your I-765 application form, you may consult an immigration attorney to help you.


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