In order for an alien to work in the U.S., they must first get permission to do so from USCIS. Only USCIS has the authority to grant an alien such permission, or “employment authorization” as it is legally called. It is important to understand that employment authorization cannot be granted by itself; in other words, an alien cannot simply apply for employment authorization and come to the United States to work. They must first apply for or be in the process of applying for an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant visa status that would allow them to work.
Some immigration status categories automatically give an alien permission to work, such as in the case of a permanent resident alien or in the case of certain non-immigrant visas, such as the H-1B, L-1, and E worker categories. Thus, in these categories, the alien does not need to apply for employment authorization, as they have it automatically as long as they continue to maintain that immigration status. In the case of aliens who are in the U.S. and are seeking to adjust their status to permanent resident, the alien may apply for work authorization with USCIS at the same time that they file their application to adjust status. For example, this would apply to an alien who is adjusting status after getting a labor certification from their employer, or in the case of a relative based petition, where an alien is eligible to adjust status after marrying a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If you have any questions about whether you may work in the U.S. or apply for employment authorization, you should consult/speak with an experienced immigration attorney.
If you have questions about whether you are eligible to apply for a work permit or which category you should apply under, call South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel at (954) 385-3111.