Check the Status of Your I-765 Work Permit Application

Checking Your I-765 Case Status

If you are seeking work authorization, you may have already filed an I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.  Checking your I-765 case status is important because you’ll want to quickly address any USCIS delays that may occur.

Start by locating your receipt number.  After USCIS has accepted your I-765 application, you will receive an I-797 Notice of Action.  Towards the top of the notice is a box labeled “Receipt Number.”  It will typically begin with three letters followed by a series of 10 numbers.

Next, enter that “Receipt Number” on the USCIS website for checking your case status.

When you enter the receipt number, the system will tell you what is happening with your case. 

If your application was accepted, then the system will tell you that they mailed you a receipt notice I-797 and that USCIS will let you know the next step at a later time. 

After you have sent your application for a work permit, you should also receive a fingerprint appointment at a local immigration office.  After your fingerprint notice, immigration may send you a request for more evidence.  This happens most often when you forget to send something to them. 

If your application is complete, you will still have to wait several months to receive your new work permit.

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What if I did not get a receipt notice?

It is impossible to check the status of your work permit application without locating your receipt notice.

If you sent the work permit application to USCIS and did not receive an I-797 (receipt notice) then it is possible that you sent your application to the wrong government address. Or perhaps your application was lost in the mail. Or USCIS made an error and simply did not send you the I-797 Notice of Action.

How do you know what happened? Check if money was withdrawn from your bank account.  This would mean that USCIS cashed the check used to pay your filing fee.  If it did, then you will know your work permit application was filed at the correct address, and you should immediately call USCIS at 1 (800) 375-5283.

When you call USCIS, you will speak to someone at a call center.  You should calmly explain the situation to the officer on the phone.  The USCIS representative will put in a service request and provide you with a number for your service request.  Make sure you write the number down and have it available if you need to call them back.  Give USCIS about 60 days.  If they have not resolved your issue, you may call them back and give them your service request number for an update and the next steps.

Did I file the right form for getting a work permit?

To get work authorization, you should have used Form I-765.

The form is used for getting your first work permit, or renewing your existing work permit.  Work permits are also referred to as Employment Authorization Documents or EADs.

What is an employment authorization document (EAD)?

EAD stands for Employment Authorization Document.  It is a picture ID card with your name, alien number, and date of birth.   You can use your work permit to get a social security number.  With the EAD and Social Security number, you can work lawfully in the U.S.  You can also get a driver’s license, which is issued by the state government of the state where you live.

How long it’s valid for will depend on how you qualified for the work permit.  Typically, you can expect an EAD to be valid for one year from the date that USCIS approves your form I-765 application for work authorization.  There are several exceptions, however.  For example, if you have DACA then you will receive a work permit for two years.

Does a work permit let me live legally in the US?

A work permit by itself does not give you lawful immigration status.  Permission to work here in the U.S. can be granted to people who have no status, but have an application or petition pending or approved.  For example, DACA is not a form of lawful immigration status.  So if you have a work permit through DACA, that does not mean you have status in the U.S. Another example is if you entered the U.S. with a visitor visa and your permission to stay expires.  If later you apply for a green card or lawful permanent residence, you can receive a work permit, but still you will not have status.

Because a work permit or EAD does not give you status, you do not get many of the benefits that lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or other visa holders have.  For example, you cannot petition family members or stay in the U.S. indefinitely.  A work permit is temporary and should not be treated as a visa or green card.

If you are interested in the process of getting an immigrant visa, you can read more about it here.

Why is it taking so long to get my I-765 approved?

When you check your I-765 case status, you may feel that your case is delayed, and that something is wrong.  Delays in USCIS processing are common.

There are several possible reasons for a delay in your I-765 case status.  First, the office where you sent it could simply be very busy.  The number of EAD/Work Permit applications vary throughout the year, and USCIS sometimes takes a very long time on easy cases.  This is not uncommon.

Another reason that your work permit application may be delayed is that you do not qualify for the benefit, and USCIS is taking time to review your case.  If you are not sure if you qualify for a work permit, then you should consult with an immigration attorney or call the USCIS customer service line at 1 (800) 375-5283.

In any event, check your I-765 case status often, as getting your work permit is important.

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