It is very common for the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to take a long time to process immigration applications. Immigration applicants frequently ask if they are authorized to work while their permanent residence application is being processed. It is the most common concern for most immigrant applicants.
The simple answer is yes. Yes, you can work while your permanent residence application is being processed. However, you will be required to meet certain eligibility requirements for work authorization.
What Is an Employment Authorization Document?
An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) authorizes you to obtain employment in the US and apply for certain documents such as a driver’s license, social security number, etc. It is typically issued for a year and can be renewed by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Immigrants applying for permanent residence can file Form I-765 along with their Green Card application to renew their EAD or separately as long as their Green Card application is still pending with the USCIS.
If you are on an H-1B Visa or a L-1 Visa, then your work authorization will be valid till your visa is valid. Therefore, applying for permanent residence while your current visa is still valid will not affect your work authorization. You can also renew your EAD while your application remains pending with the USCIS.
However, if you have an O-1 Visa or TN Visa, then you are allowed to work until that visa expires, however, you can not renew that work authorization if it expires while you have applied for permanent residence in the US.
How to File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
If you are filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and you require employment authorization, then you must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization along with it. This way you will not be required to pay an additional fee.
If you file both forms separately, then you will be required to submit a copy of I-797C, Notice of action, as evidence to prove that you paid the required fee for Form I-485.