What is the difference between an employment authorization document and a greencard?

Friday, April 28, 2017 | Last Updated: October 19, 2015
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What is the difference between an employment authorization document and a greencard?

Immigration attorney answers your questions about work permits and greencards

What is the difference between an employment authorization document and a greencard?

What is the difference between an employment authorization document (EAD or work permit) and a greencard (lawful permanent residence)?

One of my Sacramento client’s question took me completely by surprise:  the client said to me, if I have a work permit, why do I need a greencard? Sometimes, as an immigration lawyer, I need to inform my clients of the benefits and drawbacks of obtaining a greencard or naturalization if they do not know the basics. The differences between a work permit and a greencard are very important and certainly worthy of your attention.

A work permit is merely a TEMPORARY card that allows you to work legally in the U.S. temporarily. You cannot obtain a work permit by itself. A work permit is a benefit of some sort of underlying status.

For example, you cannot come to the U.S. and simply apply for a work permit just because you want to work in the U.S., you have to have an underlying right to obtain a work permit, some sort of employment visa or other ground. Accordingly, when the basis for your work permit finishes, your work permit also terminates. For example, if you have a pending employment green card and it is denied, your work permit (which was obtained on the basis of that pending application) becomes invalid and you are left without the ability to work in the U.S.

By contrast, with a greencard, you are always allowed to work legally in the U.S. Your permanent greencard (a conditional green card is only valid for two years) is valid for ten years but even if the greencard card itself expires you are still considered a lawful permanent resident (“greencard holder”).

While a work permit is temporary, a greencard is considered permanent (note, it is possible to lose your greencard if you abandon the U.S., commit certain crimes, consider yourself a nonresident for tax purposes, or other grounds). A greencard is considered permanent because you will have it indefinitely unless you do something wrong deserving of losing it. This is in contrast to a work permit, which will terminate when the underlying basis expires.

Additionally, a work permit does not give you a basis to apply for naturalization (U.S. Citizenship). You must first be a lawful permanent resident (greencard holder) to apply for naturalization. Only U.S. Citizens can vote and unlike both holders of work permits and greencards, U.S. citizens generally can never be deported from the U.S. Again, only green card holders have the ability to qualify for naturalization, being the holder of a mere work permit is not enough.

For any questions, call us at (916) 613-3553 so that we can schedule a consultation.  We represent clients throughout the fifty states with offices in Northern California.

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Published by: The Ranchod Law Group


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