Can You Work While Your Green Card Application Is Pending?

Becoming a citizen of the United States is a dream for many, but the process of applying for and being approved for a green card is confusing. With so many complicated rules, it is a good idea to do your homework before taking any steps that might put your application in jeopardy, and that includes the rules regarding working.

There is a difference between being able to remain in the United States while waiting for your green card to be approved and being legally allowed to work. Permission must be granted by the government while you’re waiting for your immigration status to change.

As is true with so many other aspects of immigration in the United States, the answer to whether you can work while you’re waiting for green card approval often depends on whether you’ve submitted all of the appropriate documentation. For those who have been in the country for a while and submitted Form I-485 for adjustment of status, you also should have submitted an application for an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD. An EAD is also known as a work permit, and it is proof that you can be legally employed. It is important to understand the difference between a work permit and a work visa like an H-1B visa. A work visa is specific to one employer.

To qualify for approval of an EAD application, you must fall into one of several immigration statuses. These include fiancé (K-1) visa holders, student (F-1) visa holders, those who are in the country with Temporary Protected Status, DACA recipients, and any immigrants with pending adjustment of status applications.

As long as your EAD has been submitted, approved, and is still valid, you’re generally able to work in the United States. People who are married to a U.S. citizen and who want to work can file for adjustment of status at the same time that they apply for a work permit, but those seeking citizenship based on a family member who has a green card rather than citizenship will need to submit their green card application first, and then apply for a work permit later.

If you are waiting for your green card application to be approved, or if you need guidance on any immigration issue, our experienced attorneys can help. Contact us today to set up a time for us to speak.