Many people come to the United States in search of work; however, getting into the country for work reasons isn’t ultimately as simple as crossing the border.

In fact, foreign citizens are not legally allowed to work in the United States unless they have permission from the federal government. This means obtaining a work visa or a work permit.

What is a Work Visa?

A work visa or work permit is a specific card that is issued by the United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration. It serves as a photo ID that people can use when applying for work that demonstrates that they have received specific permission from the government to work in the United States. Many employers will ask for this card before hiring someone to ensure that the employer isn’t violating federal law. Employers who hire people without verifying work eligibility can be subject to significant fines and other penalties.

Do I Need to Apply for a Work Permit?

There are some people who do not need to apply for a work permit to earn gainful employment in the United States. Of course, U.S. citizens are eligible to work. This includes citizens by birth and immigrants who have earned US citizenship. Furthermore, people who have obtained a green card in the United States are automatically eligible to work. Showing a green card is sufficient.

Who can Obtain a Work Permit?

There are many people who are eligible to apply for a work permit and all of these people must obtain a work permit if they wish to work in the United States. Some categories include K-1 visa holders and a variety of other classes, people who are waiting for a green but want to work in the meantime, people who have obtained asylum in the United States, and even students who are seeking practical training to advance their career. Basically, anyone who wants to work that doesn’t have a green card or citizenship who wants to work can apply for a work permit.

How do I Apply for a Work Visa?

People who are interested in applying for a work visa should go to the United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration website and fill out a form called Form I-765. Applicants will need to attach the proper documentation that demonstrates eligibility to apply for a work visa. While some applications will require a fee, many do not. People should read the instructions carefully to avoid having to fill out the application twice. The application is sent in by mail and it takes several weeks to be processed.

Applying for a work visa can be a daunting process and many people’s livelihoods depend on the success of this application. Anyone seeking a work visa should seek the counsel of an experienced immigration attorney to maximize the chances of a successful application.