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What is a work permit?

What is a work permit?

Updated on:
16 Jan, 2014
What is a work permit?

A work permit is an official document issued by a government authority that allows an individual to explore work opportunities and get employed in a foreign country.

The requirements and process for obtaining work permits vary from country to country and are also dependent on factors such as the individual's nationality, age, type of employment, location and intended length of stay.

Most countries require you to either have a temporary or permanent work permit to seek employment and work in the country. Obtaining a work permit is a multi-step process which will be discussed below.

How do you apply for a work permit?

Every country has a different process in place when it comes to authorizing work permits. In this article, we’ll look at the process of authorization of work permits that takes place in the United States.

If you are a foreign national who wishes to obtain employment and work in the United States, you will need to get a work permit card, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)  or Form I-766, which allows you to work in the U.S. legally It is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

To apply for a work permit, you must meet certain eligibility criteria and follow the application process as outlined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Here are the general steps to apply for a work permit: 

  1. Determine your eligibility: Check if you are eligible to apply for a work permit based on your immigration status or eligibility under certain categories such as refugees, asylees, and spouses of U.S. citizens.
  2. Complete Form I-765: The new work permit application is now completed and filed on Form I-765, which can be found on the website. Carefully follow the instructions and fill out the form completely.
  3. Gather required documents: You will need to provide supporting documents to prove your eligibility, such as a copy of your passport, visa, and I-94 form. You may also need additional documents depending on your situation. 
  4. Submit your application: You can file your work permits online or by mail. Make sure to include the correct filing fee and all required documents. 
  5. Wait for a decision: USCIS will review your work permit application and may request additional information or documents. It can take several months to receive a decision on your application and issue work permits.

If you have U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status, you don’t need a work permit. A work permit visa is also not required if the person is hired as a remote contractor or through an employer of record in a location in the United States.

Another way for US companies and employers to avoid the complications of paperwork, visas and job relocation is to hire remote talent from across the globe.

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Who isn't eligible for a work permit?

Certain individuals may not be eligible for a work permit, depending on their circumstances and the labor laws of the country. Some reasons for ineligibility may include:

  • Individuals who are not authorized to enter or remain in the country where they are seeking a work permit.
  • Individuals who have a criminal record or have been deemed a security threat.
  • A person who has previously violated immigration laws or overstayed a visa.
  • Individuals who are unable to meet the educational or professional requirements for employment for the job they are seeking.
  • Individuals who are seeking to work in certain restricted occupations or industries, such as certain types of employment such as government jobs or jobs that require security clearances.
  • Individuals who have been found to have provided false information or documentation during the application process.
  • A person who has been refused a work permit request in the past has not addressed the reasons for the refusal.

Who is eligible for a work permit?

US Citizenship and Immigration Services offers employment authorization documents to eligible immigrants who wish to work in the US. USCIS provides comprehensive guidance on the individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for these documents.

The eligibility criteria include various categories such as DACA recipients, K-1 Fiance Visa holders, asylees, immigrants with pending green card applications, individuals with extraordinary abilities, certain visa holder spouses, temporary protected status or deferred enforced departure beneficiaries, certain exchange visitors, approved temporary workers, and F-1 students facing financial hardship who seek optional practical training (OPT).

To access a full list of immigration statuses that allow individuals to get employment authorization documents, you can refer to the instructions for Form I-765 available on the USCIS website. It is important to note that individuals who wish to apply for these documents must provide their social security number, age, and employer details, along with a filing fee. The employment authorization document has an expiration date and needs to be renewed as necessary.

Who can work without applying for a work permit?

Individuals who have a green card, also known as lawful permanent residents, do not need to apply for a work permit as their green card authorizes them to work in the United States for as long as it is valid. If an employer requests proof, a green card can be presented as evidence.

Similarly, individuals who become US citizens also do not need to apply for a work permit and can use their US passport or naturalization certificate as proof of work.

Moreover, if someone holds an employment visa, such as an H-1B Visa, L-1 Visa, E-3, or E Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor visa, they do not need to apply for separate work permits.

It is essential to consult with a qualified immigration attorney or refer to the instructions for detailed information regarding the visa interview process and employment authorization document requirements.

How long does it take to get a work permit?

After submitting your application, it typically takes 2-7 months for processing. However, USCIS may process some employment authorization applications faster, such as those for asylum workers. Once USCIS receives your paperwork, they will send you a receipt notice. This notice should arrive in the mail within 2-3 weeks after you file. You can use your receipt number to track your application status on USCIS's website. It is important to stay in touch with your employer during the application process to ensure a smooth transition once you receive your employment authorization document.

What happens after someone receives a work permit?

Once someone obtains a work permit, they can start working for their employer in the position they applied for. Individuals can explore other job opportunities in their field or related occupations. Depending on the country's regulations, they may need to apply for a new work permit for each job change.

In addition to allowing individuals to work legally, a work permit may also provide some benefits, such as access to health care, social security, and other government programs. The exact benefits may vary depending on the country and the type of work permit obtained.

It is crucial to keep in mind that a work permit is not a permanent solution for staying in a foreign country. It typically expires after a specified period, and individuals may need to renew their work permit or apply for a different type of visa if they wish to continue working and living in the country.

In conclusion, receiving a work permit opens up a world of opportunities for individuals seeking jobs in a foreign country. However, it is important to stay informed about the specific requirements and restrictions for working in a foreign country to avoid any legal issues.

What if the USCIS denies a work permit application?

USCIS may reject your application for three primary reasons:

  1. Mistakes on the application: If Form I-765 is filled out incorrectly, lacks a signature, or missing essential supporting documents, your application may be rejected.
  2. Ineligibility for a work permit: Only those with a U.S. immigration status that permits working in the country are eligible for a work permit. The application can be rejected if someone without such status applies for a work permit.

Obtaining other work authorization: In certain cases, applicants may apply for both a green card and a work permit simultaneously. If the green card application is approved before the work permit, a separate work permit is not required as the green card authorizes work. This is not a common occurrence, and the applicant should not worry about this situation.

How to switch or renew a work permit?

Renewing work permits

If you are currently employed with a work permit and need to renew it, you can do so by filing Form I-765 with USCIS. You should file your renewal application at least 120 days before your current permit expires to avoid a lapse in employment authorization. Make sure to include the required filing fee and any supporting documents necessary for your specific case.

Switching a work permit

If you need to switch to a different type of work permit or change your employer, you will need to file a new Form I-765 with USCIS. Be sure to provide information about your new employer and work location, as well as any required filing fees and supporting documents.

It's important to note that filing fees and required documents may vary depending on your specific situation and the type of work permit you are applying for. Be sure to carefully review the instructions provided by USCIS before filing your application to ensure that you provide all necessary information and pay the correct fee. Once your application is accepted, you will receive a new employment authorization document, which will allow you to continue working in the U.S. legally.

Stay ahead of the curve with Skuad

Navigating complex employment and labor situations and understanding work permits in every country is a challenge for employers. With remote work being the new normal, companies can seamlessly hire top talent anywhere across the globe by partnering with an Employer of Record platform like Skuad.

To know more about Skuad, book a demo!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a work permit for every country?

Yes, every country has its own set of rules and regulations that govern the application procedure and eligibility for a work permit and one has to complete everything to qualify and get a work permit to relocate and work for employers in a foreign country. For instance, there are three types of work permits in Singapore.

Is a work permit the same as a work visa?

No, they are not the same. A work visa allows you to enter a country and resider there for a specific period it is issued by the country's citizenship and immigration services authority and is usually tied to a specific job offer or employer. On the other hand, a work permit is a legal document issued by a government department that authorizes a foreign national to work in a specific country for a specified period











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