The Employment Authorization Card, also known as the EAD Card (or as the Red Card or a “Plan B” while the Green Card filing is processing), is created from the I-765 Filing. It is free through a pending I-485 Green Card Application. The Classification code through a Pending I-485 is (C)(9).
There are many questions surrounding this topic of employment. Lets dive on in!
How long does the Employment Authorization Card take to process at USCIS?
At the moment, our office usually states that the Employment authorization under C9 takes 150 to 180 days to process. Meaning, it would not likely be touched by a USCIS Office for 150 to 180 days. Once it is touched, it is usually immediately processed, eligibility is established, background check performed, and the Card is placed in the mail.
Some people research and see a USCIS Policy stating the Employment Authorization under C9 is supposed to process within 75 days, and the Policy sounds promising. Unfortunately, Immigration Law changes and processing times shift depending on backlog. It has been years since our office has seen an EAD under C9 process within 75 days. There is a link below if you’d like to see current, up-to-date USCIS Processing Time. For the past few years, our estimate of 150 to 180 days has been the norm.
Can I expedite the Filing for Employment Authorization?
No, the Permission to Work is not normally able to be expedited. You can read more here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/adjustment-of-status/can-i-expedite-the-i-765-employment-authorization/
How much does the EAD Card Cost?
Through a Pending I-485 Application for a Green Card, the EAD Card is free. Generally, the I-765 costs $410 or $495. However, since the C9 Category is free, it processes slower than a paid EAD Category. For instance, if you paid for a DACA EAD or C33 EAD, the Employment Authorization could arrive in as little as 4 weeks (depending on backlog).
Can I track the progress of the EAD Card?
Absolutely, the USCIS Receipt Number permits easy tracking. However, at the moment, our office usually states that it takes 150 to 180 days. Meaning, it would not likely be touched by a USCIS Office for 150 to 180 days. Once it is touched, it is usually immediately processed, eligibility is established, background check performed, and the Card is placed in the mail.
Alternatively, you can check the USCIS Processing Time Feature to get more information:
Here is a link: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/#mainContent
Can I work with the I-797 USCIS Notice?
Unfortunately, you MUST have the Employment Authorization Card in your hands in order to start working legally. The Receipt Notice provides ZERO Benefit. You must wait for USCIS to adjudicate and approve the request for permission to work. The Receipt Notice also states that no benefit is provided, meaning you are not able to work.
Can I have multiple EAD Cards, like DACA and the C9 EAD Card or OPT and the C9 EAD Card?
Yes, it is possible to have multiple EAD Cards, and in some situations it is preferred.
For Instance, someone on DACA can use DACA for years to be safe from Deportation. The safety aspect is important and it is wise to keep that “benefit” until Lawful Permanent Residence is acquired.
Here is another example, a Student has been studying hard and wants to work in their field of study, an Optional Practical Training (OPT) Employment Authorization Card would allow them to work while a Green Card filing is pending. It is nice to be able to work, and it is ok if the work occurs under OPT EAD Card or C9 EAD Card. However, in this scenario, the Immigrant would likely just use whichever EAD Card they first receive in their hand to start working.
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