Every so often, while trying to ascertain what immigration applications a client may have filed in the past, I hear, “immigration approved that case because they gave me a work permit.” Unfortunately, things are never that simple. An employment authorization document, otherwise known as a “work permit” or “EAD”, is only that: a card which indicates that an individual is authorized to work. It does not necessarily guarantee or confirm that an individual has been approved for permanent residence. The two are entirely different things. Generally speaking, a person will apply for employment authorization on I-765 along with or in association with another application, such as one for permanent residence, asylum, temporary protected status, etc. In the case of an I-765 which is normally filed concurrently with an I-485, Application to Adjust Status, the intent is usually to secure permission to work while the I-485 is pending review. These days, USCIS has been surprisingly expedient in scheduling and adjudicating I-485s. Many marriage based adjustments that our law office has filed have been scheduled within three months, at least in New Jersey. However, not too long ago, cases took much longer to be scheduled. In the interim, applicants would receive their work permits, which they could use to legally work while awaiting disposition of their cases. However, the point is that the grant of work authorization, especially in these types of situations where permanent residence is also being filed for, does not always mean that USCIS has approved a person’s case. The merits of an individual’s permanent residence case will be decided at a later time, and in fact, if the case is denied, any work authorization previously granted is revoked.
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