Before receiving a green card, legal immigrants in the U.S. may spend some time categorized as a nonresident alien. Because of their immigration status, nonresident aliens are generally not able to accept offers of employment. New immigrants can put their skills and talents to use by applying for a work permit that allows them to secure a job.
Permanent residents who hold green cards are automatically permitted to work in the U.S. Some nonresident aliens have a certain type of visa that allows them to work for a specific employer. Other nonresident aliens, however, may apply for a work permit and also receive a specially designated Social Security card.
A legal presence in the U.S. does not necessarily translate into an automatic right to work. If you are a nonresident alien without a work visa, it is important to obtain official approval before starting new employment. Entering the job market without a work permit could possibly hinder your future efforts to obtain a green card.
Work permit application
A work permit is officially referred to as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), although the actual EAD is a laminated card. Application for an EAD is made through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a part of the Department of Homeland Security. You can apply for both an EAD and a Social Security card on the same application form.
Special notation on Social Security card
After submitting Form I-765 to the USCIS, you should expect to receive your work permit and a specialized Social Security card. The Social Security Administration issues three different categories of Social Security cards. The front side of your Social Security card will include a notice in large print, indicating that the card is valid for work only.
Form I-9 requirements
When starting a new job, all employees are required to complete USCIS Form I-9 to establish their identity and their right to work. Many employees simply provide a driver's license and a regular Social Security card. Instead of those documents, you may use an EAD that contains your photograph.
An EAD work permit is sometimes referred to as Form I-766, even though it is a laminated card. Once you obtain permanent resident status, a separate work permit is no longer required.
Obtaining a Social Security number is an essential first step in opening financial accounts or establishing credit. If you file a Form 1040NR tax form instead of Form 1040, include your Social Security number as your identifying number on Form 1040NR. Contact an immigration law office like David Borts Law Office for more advice about entering the U.S. job market.