What is my “Eligibility Category” on my i-765 Application for Employment Authorization?

Posted on Jul 05, 2021

A common question that many people seem to have when they are completing their I-765 Application for Employment Authorization is: What is my “Eligibility Category?” This question is found on item 27 (page 3) of the current I-765 Application (Edition date 08/25/20).

In order to appreciate the answer to this question, it is important that you first understand that your eligibility to apply for a work permit must be based upon an immigration status that ALSO allows you to work while you are in the United States in that status. In fact, some non-immigrant categories specifically prohibit you from working while you are in that status (such as E2, most B-2 visitors, and first-year F-1 students). Thus, IF you are in an immigration status that allows you to work in the U.S., you simply need to find the “category” under U.S. Immigration law that authorizes you to work in that status.

To assist you in this process, I have reproduced a list below which sets forth each immigration status that allows you to work in the United States, along with the corresponding category. Once you find your status in the “Description”, you can simply write your category (for instance “(a)(2)” into the boxes on item 27 of the I-765). You will notice that there are 3 boxes provided in item 27, thus corresponding to the categories that have one additional organizational level (such as “(c)(3)(iii)”). For more information and details on each category, you can also refer to the USCIS Instructions for Form I-765 which you can download from the Forms section of the USCIS.gov website.

Form I-765 Category Description
(a)(2)Lawful temporary residents
(a)(4)Paroled refugees
(a)(6)Fiancé(e) (K-1 or K-2 nonimmigrant)
(a)(7)N-8 or N-9
(a)(8)Citizen of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau
(a)(9)K-3 or K-4
(a)(10)Withholding of deportation or removal granted
(a)(11)Deferred Enforced Departure
(a)(12)Temporary Protected Status granted
(a)(13)Family Unity Program (Section 301 of the Immigration Act of 1990)
(a)(14)LIFE Legalization (Section 1504 of the Legal Immigrant Family Equity (LIFE) Act Amendments)
(a)(15)V visa nonimmigrants
(a)(16)T-1 nonimmigrants
(a)(17)Spouse of an E nonimmigrants
(a)(18)Spouse of an L nonimmigrants
(a)(19)U-1 nonimmigrants
(a)(20)U-2, U-3, U-4, or U-5 nonimmigrants
(c)(1)Spouse/dependent of A-1 or A-2 visa nonimmigrants
(c)(2)Spouse/dependent of Coordination Council for North American Affairs (E‑1)/ Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO)
(c)(3)(A)F-1 student, pre-completion Optional Practical Training
(c)(3)(B)F-1 student, post-completion Optional Practical Training
(c)(3)(C)F-1 student, 24-month extension for STEM students
(c)(3)(ii)F-1 student, off-campus employment sponsored by a qualifying international organization
(c)(3)(iii)F-1 student, off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship
(c)(4)Spouse/dependent of G-1, G-3, or G-4
(c)(5)J-2 spouse or child of J-1 exchange visitor
(c)(6)M-1 student, Practical Training
(c)(7)Dependent of NATO-1 through NATO-6
(c)(8)Asylum application pending which was filed on or after January 4, 1995
(c)(8)Asylum application pending which was filed before January 4, 1995 and if applicant is not in exclusion/deportation proceedings
(c)(8)Asylum application pending which was filed before January 4, 1995 and if the applicant is in exclusion/deportation proceedings
(c)(8)Asylum application under the “ABC Agreement”
(c)(9)Pending adjustment of status under Section 245 of the Act
(c)(10)Suspension of deportation applicants (filed before April 1, 1997) Cancellation of Removal applicants Cancellation applicants under NACARA
(c)(11)Public Interest parolees
(c)(12)Spouse of an E-2 CNMI investors
(c)(14)Deferred action status
(c)(15)Not in use
(c)(16)Creation of record (adjustment based on continuous residence since Jan. 1, 1972)
(c)(17)(i)B-1 domestic servant of certain nonimmigrants
(c)(17)(ii)B-1 domestic servant of certain U.S. citizens who are in the United States on a temporary basis.
(c)(17)(iii)Certain B-1 nonimmigrant employees of a foreign airline
(c)(18)Order of supervision
(c)(19)Certain pending TPS applicants which USCIS has already determined are prima facie eligible for TPS and who may then receive an EAD as a ”temporary treatment benefit” under 8 C.F.R. 244.10(a).
(c)(20)Section 210 legalization (pending I-700)
(c)(21)S visa nonimmigrants
(c)(22)Section 245A legalization (pending I-687)
(c)(23)Irish peace process (Q-2)
(c)(24)LIFE legalization
(c)(25)T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, or T-6 nonimmigrants
(c)(26)Spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrants
(c)(31)VAWA self-petitioners who have an approved Form I-360
(c)(33)Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
(c)(35)The principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances
(c)(36)Spouse or unmarried child of a principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances

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