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Quick Work Permit? Not so fast!

December 31, 2012

I had a client tell me the other day that a different immigration law firm promised him a work permit “quickly.”  Please be warned.  There is no such thing as a “quick” work permit.  If someone (a lawyer or a service) is promising you something that seems to good to be true: it probably is!  In order to qualify for a work permit, several criterion must be met.  The work permit is only available when you ALSO have another case pending or resolved with ICE or USCIS.  One may not file for a work permit by itself.

For example, when a person marries a US citizen and is in the process of applying for residency here in the United States, he or she may also apply for a work permit.   When a nonimmigrant student is present in the US on Optional Practical Training (OPT), they would qualify to apply for a work permit.  A person who is currently in removal proceedings and who already filed specific applications with the Immigration Court or with the USCIS, to include Cancellation of Removal or Political Asylum (after a specific time period)  may also be entitled to apply for a work permit while awaiting trial.  Persons granted political asylum, withholding of removal, TPS, DACA, or other Deferred Action may also be granted a work permit.  Likewise, those with a final order of removal against them, who are awaiting removal from the United Sates may, in certain circumstances, qualify for a work permit.

Work permits are filed on Form I-765.  Processing may take up to 90 days and requires biometrics (fingerprinting).  The filing of the work permit also requires that the applicant demonstrate and file with the application evidence regarding the basis of their eligibility to work.  For example, students must submit copies of the Form I-20.  Those in removal must show receipts for pending applications before the Court and notices regarding up-coming Court dates.  Adjustment applicants filing separate from their applications must show proof of a pending I-485 application.

There is a common misconception that persons may simply come to this country and file for a work permit.  A client contacted me from Mexico last week.  He thought he could come to the United States on his visitor’s visa and file for a work permit. This is not permissible.  Unless one of the qualification mentioned above (or those listed on the form I-765) are met, permission to work will not be granted.  There is no such thing, therefore, as a ‘quick’ work permit.  If a lawyer or legal professional tells you they can obtain a quick work permit for you or your client, please consider getting a second opinion.  You may find more information about the Form I-765 at http://www.USCIS.gov.

Happy New Year!

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