A Complete Guide To

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) Explained

What is Form I-765 used for?

Certain foreign nationals, who are eligible to work in the United States, use Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to request permission to work. When hiring employees, U.S. employers must request proof of the worker's right to work.

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) may work without requesting special permission. Some nonimmigrants, temporary in nature, may be granted employment authorization upon request from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, not all nonimmigrants are eligible for this benefit. Individuals granted employment authorization with an approved Form I-765 receive an employment authorization document. You may also hear this document referred to as:

  • EAD;
  • Employment Authorization Card; or
  • Work Permit.

These are different names for the same thing. Use Form I-765 to request an initial, replacement or renewal card. You must be in a valid eligibility category to request employment authorization.

Eligibility for Employment Authorization

Who may file the I-765 application?

Several categories of nonimmigrants in the United States may be eligible to apply for employment authorization using Form I-765. It is important for the applicant to understand the underlying basis for eligibility. In some cases, DACA for example, the applicant must submit the I-765 application with Form I-821D. However, other categories may file the application at a later date. For example, adjustment of status applicants may file Form I-765 with I-485 or anytime the I-485 is pending.

The complete list of eligibility categories for I-765 can be viewed below:

Typically, USCIS issues work permits for a period of one year. However, they may issue longer or shorter periods for some categories. Generally, you can file for a renewal if your work permit is expired or will expire in the next 120 days. To receive approval for a renewal, you'll need to make sure you remain eligible in the eligibility category that you applied.

I-765 Online Filing versus PDF

Can Form I-765 be filed online?

USCIS offers an online filing option for the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.  But there are tradeoffs when you use USCIS online filing. You can submit your application quickly. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you get quick processing or protections from mistakes. If you are interested a quick approval, focus on submitting a well-prepared application package. It’s the difference between saving a couple of days with online filing versus saving several weeks with smooth processing. What’s more, USCIS is not your advocate. They are not looking out for your best interests. If you include information that damages your application or your immigration future, USCIS isn’t going to correct you.

For people who want to make sure they are preparing the application correctly, CitizenPath offers an affordable service created by immigration attorneys. CitizenPath’s Employment Authorization Package will make the application easy and give you alerts if there’s a problem. You’ll also receive detailed filing instructions so you know exactly which supporting documents to submit with your application. CitizenPath even provides a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your application.

You may always download a copy of the Form I-765 PDF from the USCIS website. Occasionally, USCIS publishes new editions of the I-765 application. Make sure you are using an edition which USCIS accepts. Although you may use black ink to fill in your Form I-765 by hand, it’s preferable to file a typed application. This helps prevent mistakes and may improve intake speed.

Form I-765 Instructions

How do I fill out I-765?

CitizenPath's online services help you prepare Form I-765 with simple, step-by-step instructions. Our Employment Authorization Package help you fill out the application in just a few minutes. We even give you a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your application.

If you prefer to fill out the PDF-based application, you can download instructions from USCIS or follow this summary of directions.

General Guidance

  • Type or print answers in black ink only. 
  • Enter “N/A” if an answer is not applicable and "NONE" if your answer is zero.
  • Foreign language documents must be accompanied by a full English certified translation.
  • Submit your application with the current USCIS filing fee. Use a personal check, money order, cashier’s check or use Form G-1450 to pay by credit card.
  • Submit photocopies for all supporting documents unless an original document is specifically required.

Part 1

  • For Reason for Applying, indicate if this is an initial, replacement, or renewal application for employment authorization. Even if you've previously had a work permit, it is an initial application if you're applying for the first time under a new eligibility category.

Part 2

  • For Names, use your current legal name. If you married in the U.S., the marriage certificate is generally a legal name change document. You can start using your married name. USCIS will use this name to issue the EAD. Be sure to list any other versions of your name used in the past such as a maiden name.
  • For Mailing Address, provide any address where you can safely receive mail. USCIS will mail you notices and appointment information at this address.
  • For Other Information, do not list an alien registration number or USCIS online account number unless one has been issued to you. You should also indicate if you've ever had a Social Security Number issued to you. If not, you may use Form I-765 to request a Social Security Card.
  • For Information About Your Last Arrival in the United States, include information regarding your most recent entry to the United States. Select the visa category you held when you most recently entered the U.S. and were admitted by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. Make sure your information matches corresponding documentation. The visa category will be listed on your I-94 record.
  • For Information About Your Eligibility Category, enter your eligibility category. Review the remaining questions and answer only if they are applicable to your category.

Parts 3, 4, 5 and 6

  • For Applicant's Statement, provide the requested information and important contact information so that USCIS may contact you during the process.
  • For Interpreter and Preparer, provide information if applicable. If you prepared your Form I-765, it’s only necessary to sign as the “applicant.” If another person translated or prepared the application for you, be sure Parts 4 and 5 are filled in and signed appropriately.
  • For Additional Information, include any extra information that did not fit in the space provided.

This is an abbreviated list of Form I-765 instructions. We highly recommend that you download USCIS instructions or use CitizenPath’s service to prepare the application. CitizenPath provides filing instructions customized to your situation. You’ll get detailed I-765 instructions that explain which supporting documents to submit, how to organize, and where to mail.

Filing Addresses for the Application

Where to file Form I-765?

USCIS accepts the I-765 application via e-file and mail. They do not want applicants to submit the form in-person at USCIS offices. Due the various eligibility categories, there are many different Form I-765 filing addresses. The address depends on various factors such as the basis of eligibility (e.g. family, employment, asylum, etc.) and U.S. state of residence. For the most up-to-date address, refer to the USCIS I-765 direct filing addresses.

Although USCIS receives your application package at these locations, they will process them somewhere else. If you have an interview, it will be at a USCIS field office near that home address you provide.

I-765 Application Processing Time

How long does it take?

USCIS is reporting processing times in excess of one year. However, CitizenPath customers generally receive their EADs more quickly. Form I-765 processing times will vary significantly based on the underlying eligibility category and service center.

Reporting for processing times only includes forms that were successfully filed. If an individual does not correctly prepare a form or otherwise does not satisfy eligibility requirements, USCIS will reject or deny these requests. For the most recent year, USCIS reported the following national statistics:

USCIS Rejections in 2023


385,981 Rejections
USCIS Denials in 2023


426,265 Denials

How CitizenPath Helps You

Is there an inexpensive way to file the I-765 application?

CitizenPath's affordable, online service makes it easy to prepare Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Designed by immigration lawyers, the Employment Authorization Package helps you eliminate the common errors that create delays, rejections and even denials. That's because the service alerts you when your answer to a question may be a problem. You'll also get customized filing instructions based on your situation. It's a powerful, do-it-yourself tool that puts you in control. And we've got your back -- CitizenPath provides live customer support and provides a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your application.

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Once you're completely satisfied, you’ll be able to print your I-765 and customized filing instructions.

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