Moving to a new country can be an exciting adventure filled with endless possibilities. Unfortunately, in the world we live in while discovering those endless possibilities certainly isn’t a guarantee, discovering endless immigration bureaucracy is a guarantee. Here we will try to explain some of that bureaucracy in the simplest terms possible to help ease the pressure on your sanity that the immigration process threatens.

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Types of Foreign Workers

There are many different types of work opportunities in the United States for foreign workers. Your first step in coming to work in the US is determining what type of work you wish to pursue. Some people desire to come to the US as permanent immigrant workers, while others come on a temporary worker basis. There are also exchange workers, seasonal agricultural workers, and many other categories of foreign workers.

There are many different types of work visas in the US and determining the type of work visa you will seek to obtain will depend largely upon the line of work you wish to pursue. While multiple work visa options may be available for some employment opportunities, others will be limited to a single path. Learn more about the types of visas available.

Obtaining a Work Visa


When looking into obtaining a work visa, you will need to review the eligibility requirements for any type of work visa that you are interested in pursuing. In order to procure a work visa, you will need to visit the closest US embassy or consulate to apply.

Obtaining a Work Permit

A work visa is not enough on its own to allow you to work in the United States. You will need a work permit as well, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), in or to legally work within the United States. You will need to apply for an EAD with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

An EAD is only necessary for those with a nonimmigrant visa for temporary work. Those with an immigrant visa (Green Card) don’t need an EAD as the Green Card serves as proof of your right to work. There are four steps in the process of applying for an EAD, which are:

  • File Form I-765
  • Attach supporting documents
  • Attach fee receipts
  • Submit application

File Form I-765


Form I-765 is the Application for Employment Authorization. You can download Form I-765 from the USCIS website. Make sure not to download the form until right before you are ready to apply as the USCIS make changes to the form often.

Attach Supporting Documents

You will need to attach several supporting documents to prove your status in the US, qualifications, and further evidence. Possible documents you will need to include are a copy of your passport or your last EAD and a copy of your Arrival/Departure Record.

Attach Fee Receipts

Obtaining an EAD is not free, and you will need to include proof of payment along with your application. Failing to do so will result in rejection of your application.

Submit the Application

Once you have included everything you need to receive approval for your EAD, you will need to submit your application to the USCIS. You will have the option of submitting your application through the mail or file it online. While you can apply online, you will still need to send your supporting documents through the mail, so the process isn’t really any quicker.

When mailing your application and documents, be sure to carefully check the address. Different states have different USCIS locations depending upon the category for which you are applying. Mailing your application or documents to the wrong location could result in rather lengthy delays in the processing of your work permit.

Obtaining a Green Card


For workers looking for a lengthier stay in the United States, possibly permanent, you will need to procure a green card. Obtaining a green card for employment purposes can be a very difficult process. Some categories of work require a certification from the US Department of Labor, showing that there are not enough United States workers who are able, available qualified, and willing to work in the field in which you wish to apply.

The certification must also state that no American workers are being displaced by foreign workers to fill this position.

Obtaining a Social Security Card

A further requirement to work in the United States is to obtain a social security number. You must provide your employer with a social security number within 90 days of your work start date, so applying as soon as possible is important. Immigrants applying for a social security number must submit an application when they apply for their US visa. You can apply electronically with Form DS 260.

It takes about two weeks to process your application and mail you your social security card.

Proving Eligibility to Work in the United States


Foreign must provide your potential employer with proof of your eligibility to work in the United States. You will do this by filling out an I-9 form as part of your new hire paperwork. Your employer will then submit the filled out I-9 form and receive confirmation of your ability to work within three business days of receipt of the form.

Be Careful

The desire for a new adventure and to not get bogged down in bureaucracy while attempting to pursue that adventure can lead many people into situations where they make themselves vulnerable to being to scams. There are many scammers out there ready to take advantage of people trying to come to the United States to work.

People will offer assistance in obtaining a visa when their real intention is to take your money and leave you high and dry. There is no fee for applying for a US work visa or obtaining an application form or instructions. Carefully research anyone you intend to have assist you in the process of receiving the right to work in the United States. Failing to do so could be a costly mistake.