Can I Get My Work Permit While My Immigration Case is Pending?

Waiting for your immigration case to be processed can be a very anxious period in you or your loved ones’ life. You may be trying to organize many things such as housing, transportation requirements or healthcare. One of the most common questions immigration lawyers get asked is, “Can I work while I am waiting for my immigration case to be processed?” The answer depends on several factors. In certain types of immigration cases, an immigrant may obtain permission to legally work while their case is pending.

Keep reading to see some examples of situations where an applicant can obtain permission to work in the United States while their immigration case is pending.


People with pending asylum applications, who have been waiting for 150 days or more without a decision, are allowed to apply for a work permit. Please note however, that you will not be eligible to receive the work permit until 180 days or more have passed while you are waiting for a final decision.

Keep in mind that any actions that you take to delay your process, like asking for a continuance of a hearing or rescheduling an interview, will “stop the clock” and might add days to the time by which you are able to apply for a work permit.

We file for work authorization for our clients as soon as they are eligible.

Marriage to a Citizen

The application for a work permit can be included with the initial green card application package if you are applying as the spouse of a US citizen? One less thing for you or your loved one to worry about!

Marriage to a Permanent Resident

If you are married to a US permanent resident (“green card holder”), the work permit process is slightly different. You must wait until you are eligible to file your green card application before you apply for a work permit.

Fiancé Visa

If you enter on a K-1 visa as the fiancé of a US citizen, you can work in the U.S. only if, after entering, you apply for and receive a work permit. The difficulty with applying for a work permit on a K-1 visa is that the USCIS Service Centers normally take between 45 to 90 days to issue them. This means that your chances of receiving your work permit while you are still eligible for it, as the holder of a fiancé visa, are slim. It may actually be easier to marry your partner as soon as possible and then focus on your adjustment of status (or green card) application.

Cancellation of Removal 

Immigrants placed in removal (deportation) proceedings may be eligible to apply for a green card if they can demonstrate that they are a person of good moral character, have been physically present in the U.S. for ten years, and their removal from the country would pose a an extreme hardship to a qualifying relative (a spouse or child who is a US citizen or permanent resident). An immigration may be eligible even if he or she has no immigration status or entered the U.S. without inspection. This type of relief is known as cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents.

If you are in removal proceedings and have filed an “Application for Cancellation of Removal”, you can file for work authorization while you are waiting for your court date.

Immigration law is constantly evolving and can be a very overwhelming. Each case requires individualized assessment before any legal advice can be provided. Contact the team of experienced immigration lawyers at The Center for Criminal and Immigration Law for a consultation today!

Do you want to know if you are eligible to apply for a driver’s license as an immigrant? Do you need quality immigration advice you can trust? Contact the boutique law firm, The Center for Criminal and Immigration Law, for a consultation today!

Related Posts
  • What to expect when you are charged with a crime in Virginia Read More
  • Will I lose my green card if I divorce my spouse? Read More
  • A Special Announcement from Miriam Airington-Fisher Read More