Last time we wrote about ways in which you may be able to get a work permit in the United States, there were more options. The timing for his update could not be better because the immigration field changes weekly, if not daily, and so it is crucial to remain updated in any changes in the norms and regulations.
First, who does NOT need a work permit?
US citizens and permanent residents do not need a work permit. Foreign nationals on most work visas do not need a separate work permit application, as they are allowed to work for the sponsoring employer.
Others must apply, and these include fiancées, those with pending adjustment of status applications, spouses of workers on a limited number of visa types, students on OPT, as well as DACA and TPS holders. Tourists on B1 or B2 visas are not eligible or allowed to work in the United States.
For undocumented foreign nationals, meaning those with no lawful status or those who have an application pending, there are only four options. Here they are:
Provisional Waiver (I-601A)
If you have a spouse or a parent who is a legal permanent resident or a US citizen, and you have an immigration process pending, this is for you. It is a two-year process and you never have to go in a courtroom. You will be required to leave the country for an interview outside the US. This process can be started by your spouse or parent, or by a company. It takes five steps: filing a petition at the USCIS, paying NVC fees, applying for Provisional Waiver, submitting documents to NVC, and attending the visa interview. How long it takes depends on who’s filing, the category, the backlogs at immigration, and the issues raised in the waiver application.
Cancellation of Removal
Unlike the Provisional Waiver, cancellation of removal happens inside the US. It has three steps: first hearing in court, preparing your case with your legal team, and the last hearing in court. There are no interviews. The upside of this is that if you win you get a green card, and you get a work permit during the process. The downside is that you can’t apply for it, you must wait for the government to put you in front of a judge. This is an option for people who have lived in the US for more than 10 years and have a qualifying family member to sponsor them. It takes a few years.
For people who fear significant harm if they go back to their country because of persecution due to religion, race, political views or particular social groups. Beginning with August 2020 a work permit may be applied for 365 days after application and only for cases filed voluntarily. You would not be eligible if you entered EWI (without inspection), was paroled, filed your asylum more than one year after entry, or if you have certain criminal offenses.
If the case is won, you get a green card. If you apply voluntarily, it has four steps: filing application, getting a work permit, interview at Immigration (not Court or Embassy), and, if approved, receipt of green card one year after the interview. If you apply as a defense against deportation, it has four steps: attending a couple of hearings in front of a judge, getting the work permit, if approved, and receipt of green card one year after the judge’s decision. This process takes several years regardless.
This applies to family members of military personnel or veterans; It grants you a work permit while your family member applies for your permanent residency. It can take a few years, depending on the route taken towards it.
As you may have noticed, receiving a work permit is not something that a foreign national can apply for, and it is always a small part of a much larger case. The current COVID-19 pandemic did not extend any options to support themselves to those who are stuck in the US due to travel restrictions. Sadly, the options have been limited even more and timely filing for any immigration option available to you at this moment is crucial.
We hope this information is valuable to you. To find out your options or start working on an immigration application, don’t hesitate to contact us.