Working in the United States: How to Obtain a US Work Permit

28 Jul 23:53

Many individuals across the world aspire to live and work in the United States, but the procedure may be difficult, and not everyone will be successful.

Resources can be misleading, imprecise, or just incorrect, and you may feel as if you’re hitting your head against a brick wall at times.

However, obtaining a work visa in the United States does not have to be such a minefield. With the appropriate guidance, diligence, and a little patience, most qualified persons may get the requisite paperwork with little difficulty.

This article will supply you with all of the information you want and will lead you through the entire procedure with simple and straightforward, jargon-free directions. Designed specifically for UK and EU nationals, you’ll be well on your way to realizing your ambition, along with thousands of other applications each year.

What You Will Need to Work in the United States

To work in the United States, every foreign citizen must have one of the following documents:

A “Green Card,” the desired document that certifies your status as a permanent resident.

A “work permit,” also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is thoroughly discussed in this article.

A special work visa that has been requested by your US employer and approved by USCIS.

If you do not receive at least one of these papers, your petition to work in the United States will be refused.


Do You Have U.S. ESTA VISA Travel Authorization? If You Have ESTA Application, Check if it is Still Valid!

What exactly is a US Work Permit?

A work permit in the United States is also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). It is a picture identification card issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Citizens of other nations are not permitted to work in the United States unless this document is acquired and/or the criteria of their visa have been met.

Or they have become a permanent resident after receiving a Green Card.

For example, if you intend to work in the United States as a British citizen, you will need to get a work visa to demonstrate to potential employers that you are legally permitted to do so.

This picture card, which resembles a driver’s license, is simply called as a “work permit.” However, it should not be confused with a work visa because the two are extremely different.

The Distinction Between a Work Permit and a Work Visa

A work permit in the United States and a work visa in the United States are two distinct papers, however they are frequently misunderstood, so let’s attempt to clear things up.

The work visa is a temporary document that permits the holder to enter the United States to look for work or to work for a limited period of time, such as with seasonal employment.

There are several sorts of these visas, and you must apply for the appropriate one based on where you are from and what you want to accomplish in the United States. Examples include: commerce, education, agriculture, religious objectives, and the arts.

A work visa is usually only awarded if a US-based employer submits a petition with the USCIS on your behalf. Once accepted, you can apply for a work visa if you want to live and work in the United States for an extended period of time.

That don’t mistake a US work visa with an ESTA, which is part of the visa waiver program available to citizens of eligible nations and allows them to enter the US temporarily without the need for a complete visa.

A work permit, on the other hand, is the paperwork you’ll need once you’re in the United States to lawfully work for any employer.

They are normally good for a year, after which you must request to have them renewed if you want to continue working in America. However, there are several exceptions to this regulation, which will depend on your job or position.

Who is Eligible to Apply for a Work Visa?

To successfully apply for a work visa, you must fulfil USCIS requirements and belong to a specified group of persons who are permitted to work in the United States.

Temporary (non-immigrant) employees are those who seek to come and work in the United States for a limited period of time. Depending on the sort of visa they hold, there will be limits on how long they are permitted to stay in the nation and/or what they are allowed to do.

Permanent (immigrant) workers – A permanent immigrant worker is someone who has been permitted to work in the United States as a foreigner on a permanent basis. Green card holders will be included in this category.

Students and exchange tourists may be permitted to work in the United States depending on their individual circumstances. Permission will be necessary from their school, college, or university.

Temporary Business Visitors – A B-1 visa is required if you intend to enter the United States as a temporary business visitor. However, for some people, simply using the visa waiver program is enough to qualify.

The whole list of these categories is too long to present here, but you should consult this handy visa directory to ensure you fit into at least one of them before applying for a US work visa.

Obtaining a Work Visa in the United States

To acquire a US work visa, you must meet three criteria before the USCIS/Embassy would approve your application.

  • Have a job offer from a US-based firm. To even begin the process of applying for a work visa, you must have a solid offer from a US-based business in order to potentially acquire access into the nation to work.
  • The USCIS has approved your petition. Your employer should file an I-129 form, which is a nonimmigrant worker petition. Once this is approved, you can begin applying for a work visa in the United States.
  • Certain types of visas need further Department of Labor clearance (DoL). Your company will submit this application on your behalf once again. Simply put, this is to demonstrate that the position you’re looking for demands foreign employees and that citizens’ chances would not suffer as a consequence.

Once you have completed these requirements, you can proceed to apply for a work visa in the United States.

If you are accepted, you will be required to schedule a visa interview at your nearest US Embassy or Consulate. After this interview, you should be informed whether or not you have been approved.


Do You Have U.S. ESTA VISA Travel Authorization? If You Have ESTA Application, Check if it is Still Valid!

Applying for a Work Permit in the United States

Once in the United States, you can begin the process of applying for a work permit (EAD).

To do so, you must complete the I-765 form, which may be downloaded straight from the USCIS website along with a PDF with full form-filling instructions.

You’ll have seven pages to fill out with all of the necessary information, and you’ll also need to present proof of eligibility with your supporting papers. You can review the checklist of needed evidence to ensure that nothing is overlooked.

While the majority of the form is self-explanatory, you may want assistance with one or two questions. Make careful to follow the directions to get through any hard portions.

Two passport-style pictures are usually required, and they must be taken recently and in accordance with the US Embassy’s specified photo criteria.

Many mistakes may be made here, and many applications are rejected down or delayed as a result of low quality passport images that do not meet the required criteria. Don’t get taken off guard if you want to start working in the United States as soon as feasible.

You can also request to be notified through text message or email when the USCIS approves your application, which is helpful if you want to keep updated. You must complete a G-1145 form and attach it to your primary application.

Remember to sign all of your paperwork! Many applications are denied as a result of this basic, preventable mistake.

Where to File
Depending on your nonimmigrant status and the action you are seeking, you will submit (send) your completed form to one of many available USCIS service locations.

Refer to these filing locations to ensure that your form is sent to the right address. Again, failure to do so will result in severe delay, so carefully read the requirements.

The charge for a work permit (EAD) is now $410 at the time of writing. However, it’s always a good idea to double-check with the USCIS because this is frequently subject to change.

Additionally, certain eligible groups will be required to pay a $85 biometrics charge, so check to see if you are one of them.

A fee is not necessary for anyone wishing to modify their status and receive a Green Card because the price for the I-485 application will cover this.

If you want to pay with a credit card at a USCIS Lockbox location, you’ll need to fill out an extra form. Include it in the package when you mail it.

If you choose, you can pay by money order, personal check, or cashier’s check.

What Happens Next?
You engage in the game of waiting.

Visas and work permits can take a long time to process, so plan accordingly.

Always apply far ahead of any prospective start dates, and especially well ahead of any travel dates.

Once your application has been completed and accepted, you will be notified by the USCIS, Embassy, or Consulate, and depending on the document you have filed for, you will be legally permitted to travel to/work in the US.

Remember, never start working or take any job unless you have been permitted to do so.


Below are some extra commonly asked questions to assist you with your visa/work permit application.

1. How long does it take to obtain a work visa in the United States?

The time it will take you to receive your work visa in the United States will be determined by a variety of variables.

The sort of visa you’ve filed for, your existing circumstances, and even how properly you’ve filled out the documents will all contribute to an easy or difficult procedure.

In most circumstances, the actual application will take three to five weeks to process, and if successful, an applicant will have their travel papers within the next two business days.

2. How long does it take to obtain a work visa in the United States (EAD)?

Unfortunately, EAD wait periods are far higher than visa wait times, with reports ranging from two weeks to five to seven months – and occasionally longer depending on your application and eligibility.

A complaint cannot be filed until you have been waiting for your EAD for at least 75 days.

3. How long will my work permit be valid?

This will, once again, be determined by your circumstances, application, and/or employer. A standard work permit is valid for one year.

Some will be for a period of up to three years.

Work permits can be renewed, but only for a total of six years. After that, if you want to keep working in the US, you’ll need to apply for a Green Card, if you’re eligible.

4. Which visa permits you to work in the United States?

There are several different visas that allow you to work in the United States.

The H-1B visa is the most frequent for temporary foreign employees.

If you’re not sure which sort of visa you need, you may use our official visa wizard to help you decide.

5. Can a tourist visa be changed into a work visa in the United States?

It is feasible to modify the objective of your journey to the United States if you have received a job offer from a US firm. This is known as a “status change.”

However, you cannot “convert” the visa; you must apply for a new one from beginning and verify that you fulfil all of the conditions for this new visa.

You’ll most likely be applying for the H1-B visa, which is the most prevalent US work visa – but if the quota for the year has already been met, you’ll be denied.

Every year on April 1st, the quota opens and is generally filled within a few days.

If you apply on time, your potential employer will petition the USCIS on your behalf for a change of status.

If you are successful, you will need to exit and re-enter the country because you are currently on a tourist visa.

It should also be mentioned that if you entered the nation through the ESTA visa waiver program, you will be unable to complete this process.

The quota opens every year on April 1st and is usually filled within a few days.

If you apply on time, your prospective employer will petition the USCIS for a change of status on your behalf.

Because you are presently on a tourist visa, you will need to depart and re-enter the country if you are successful.

It should also be noted that you will be unable to finish this process if you entered the country under the ESTA visa waiver program.

6. Can you work in the United States with a tourist visa?

If you hold a B-1 or B-2 visa (for business or tourist, respectively), you cannot take employment or begin any type of education while you are in possession of that visa.

This covers paid performances as well as any other performance in front of a paying audience.

Working as a member of a ship’s or aircraft’s crew.

Work in any type of media.

Or seeking to get permanent residency in the United States.

Again, if you want to study or work for a living in the US, you must reapply for the appropriate visa, be accepted for it, then leave and return to the nation before it is lawful for you to do so.

7. How can you find out whether your US visa application has been approved?

Following your visa interview at the US embassy or consulate, you will usually be informed immediately whether or not your application was successful. Officials at the embassy have the ability to approve or refuse your visa application.

If your application is accepted, you will be notified of the following stages and when your travel papers will be returned to you. This may take a few days, and your passport will most likely be held during the procedure for you to pick up later.

If your application is declined, you will be informed of the reasons why. You are not permitted to reapply for the visa, but you may still be eligible for the visa waiver programme or ESTA, so it is worthwhile to pursue that option.

Some visa applications may take significantly longer than others, therefore you should contact the National Visa Centre (NVC) directly for an update on the progress of your specific visa procedure.

8. How should I prepare for a visa interview in the United States?

Preparing for a US visa interview may appear to be a big undertaking, but when broken down step by step, it’s actually rather simple.

It is critical that you have all of your relevant documentation with you and that you complete every form or application to the letter.

Make sure there are no errors, since even a typo or an erroneous date might lead to your application being refused.

The interview will typically consist of a series of questions. These will differ according to the sort of visa you are looking for.

The interview for a K-1 fiancée visa for the intent to marry a US spouse, for example, will be substantially different from that of a B-1 or B-2 visiting visa.

You should conduct considerable study ahead of time to determine the types of questions you may be asked. A quick search yields a plethora of example questions.

The interviewer will most likely ask questions at random, and not everything will be addressed; thus, you should rehearse before your interview date to ensure that all bases are covered and you are fully prepared for whatever they may throw at you.

For example, if you’re merely wanting to get into the visa waiver program, you may look into the probable ESTA questions ahead of time.

Check out this in-depth post on US visa interview preparation if you wish to work in the United States as a British citizen.

9. Can I get further assistance with my visa/work permit applications?

There are several instructions accessible online, as well as the really useful Citizen Path website, which costs a fee for form assistance.

Immigration attorneys are also available for 10 pence, although they can be prohibitively expensive in most circumstances.

Be aware of websites that demand upfront money or appear to be too wonderful to be true. Scams abound, and with immigration being as vital and as difficult as it is, you might be taken advantage of if you are not cautious.

If you do a little searching, it’s not difficult to obtain solid immigration guidance for free.

10. What happens if my application is declined? Will I get refunded my money?

If you are rejected in your initial application for a visa or work permit, you may reapply at a later date. You will be notified why you were not accepted, and you will hopefully be able to address them the next time.

You will not, however, receive your money back – this is a processing charge that everyone must pay for all visas and work permits for the United States.

If you want to reapply, you must pay the costs again with the new application.

11. I operate remotely; do I need a work visa in the United States?

No, however you will still need a visa to enter the nation and can only stay for as long as your visa is valid in your circumstance.

12. Is it legal to work in the United States without a work permit?

Yes, it is conceivable, and there are various situations in which you will be permitted to work in the United States without the requirement for a work visa.

As previously stated, if you operate remotely, such as a freelance web designer, you will not require a work visa.

You can do any work that does not require a social security number or a bank account. Some businesses are more lenient regarding the paperwork you must give to confirm your eligibility to work in the United States.

However, you should proceed with caution in this case. Many of such jobs will be low-paying and may not be entirely legal.

Of course, if you satisfy all of the requirements, you may always apply for a Green Card.

This might be due to family or a spouse in the United States, a permanent work offer or employment, your refugee status, or any other qualifying factor.

Once you have a Green Card, you can simply show it to prospective employers to verify that you may legally work in the United States.


Do You Have U.S. ESTA VISA Travel Authorization? If You Have ESTA Application, Check if it is Still Valid!

Final Advice

The finest piece of advise for anyone wishing to start working in the United States from the United Kingdom or another EU nation is to double-check everything.

Thousands of applications are received by the USCIS that are just not filled out correctly, with obvious flaws, typos, spelling issues, ruined paperwork, and many missing signatures.

Everything’s critical that you go through it with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that everything is correct. Mistakes must be readily acknowledged, and in certain circumstances, starting again is better.

It’s good having someone else look through everything for you since a fresh pair of eyes may frequently spot something you’ve missed.


While it may appear to be a difficult task at first, working in the United States is an attainable objective.

If you take your time, keep organized, fill out all of your paperwork correctly, and prepare well for any interviews you’re likely to have, you may be well on your way to fulfilling your goal of working in America.

Best wishes!