Who Qualifies for a Work Permit?

BLS_home-1000-ffccccccWhite-3333-0.20.3-1There are numerous categories for people who are visiting the U.S. or seeking permanent resident status who wish to work here. If you have your Green Card, you are automatically qualified to work here. Tourists are not eligible to work but some undocumented aliens may apply under special government programs.

A work permit, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD), is a photo ID card issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency to those immigrants who qualify and have obtained work-based visas. These include individuals who are being sponsored by U.S. companies or who are employees of a registered treaty trader or investor.

Eligible Classes

There are many different types of work visas depending on your skill and purpose for working in the U.S. Here are a few of these visa classifications:

  • H-1B: Specialty occupation, need equivalent of US college degree in relevant subject
  • H-2A: Temporary agricultural worker
  • H-2B: Temporary non-agricultural worker
  • H-3: Trainee or special education visitor
  • L: Intracompany transferee
  • O: People with extraordinary ability or achievement
  • P-1: Team athlete, individual athlete, member of entertainment group
  • P-2: Artist or entertainer
  • Q-1: Participant in international cultural exchange program
  • E Treaty trader or investor: If company is registered as such; may be renewed indefinitely
  • E-3: For Australian nationals and their families
  • J: Brings exchange students to acquire skills; for 18-months with 2-year home residency requirement that may be waived


Your potential employer may have to obtain approval from the Department of Labor before you file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129.

Time Constraints

For many of these visas, you may have to wait from 6 to 9 months to obtain your visa, but it does depend on your country of origin. In some cases, if you pay a fee of $1,000, you may be able to get it within 15 days through INS Premium Processing.