How Long Can You Work In The U.S Without A Green Card?

If you live in the United States and are currently looking for a job while your family-based permanent resident application is pending, you must obtain a work permit first. If you already have a work visa such as an L-1 or an H-1B you are allowed to continue working while your application for a green card is being processed. If, on the other hand, you are a close relative of someone who holds a green card, you must wait until you are eligible to file your own green card application before applying for a work permit.

How do you get a work permit?

If you are currently waiting for your green card application to be processed, you may be anxious to start working in order to support yourself and those who depend on you. However, by no means do you want to start working without a work permit since doing so will completely jeopardize your entire application.

To get the work permit, use Form I-765. This can be filed at the same time you file the rest of your application for the green card. If you have not done it, you can send in the form now. Check the instructions on the form to make sure you include copies of other documents such as a copy of your current visa, a copy of your passport photo page, a copy of the acknowledgment of receipt of your green card application, and others. Do this as soon as possible since it may take more than six months for you to receive the work permit. This document would allow you to get a Social Security number as well as a driver’s license.

Work After 180 Days

If you are a respondent in immigration proceedings, you have a “work authorization clock” that starts running from the moment you file your application for relief with an immigration judge. You will be allowed to work as soon as this clock hits the mark of 180 days.

How else can you work in the United States without a green card?

There are other visas that allow you to work in the United States even if you do not yet have your green card. Non-immigrant visas such as O, L, or H visas allow you to work. Or if you have an employment authorization card. You may also work if you are in this country as a foreign student on an M, J, or F visa. In this case, you must obtain permission to work from your school’s advisors.

Get Legal Help

No matter how tempting it may be, avoid engaging in unauthorized employment while in the United States. You may believe that you can beat the system but the consequences, if you are caught, may result in deportation or in barring you from filing any future applications for relief. If you have been offered a job and you have a specific skill, ask your prospective employer if they would be willing to sponsor you for a visa that will allow you to legally work here. You may soon find yourself filing an application for a green card and gaining lawful permanent residence in the United States. Talk to an immigration lawyer and get the legal help you need.

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