USCIS Streamlines Process for Refugee Employment Authorization Documents

Release Date: 

USCIS has begun implementing a streamlined process for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to provide Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) more efficiently to eligible refugees after they are admitted into the United States. This streamlined process shortens the wait time for an EAD to approximately 30 days instead of several months. All individuals admitted into the United States as refugees on or after Dec. 10, 2023, will receive EADs pursuant to this new process.

Under U.S. law, a refugee is legally authorized to work as soon as they arrive in the United States. Obtaining proof of this work authorization in the form of an EAD, however, was previously a cumbersome paper-based process that led to undue delays. The new process is fully automated and no longer requires refugees to apply for an EAD, allowing for more efficient processing and adjudication of Form I-765 and quicker delivery of EADs after we approve them.

With this new process, USCIS will digitally create a Form I-765 for arriving refugees and begin adjudicating it as soon as they are admitted into the United States. After USCIS approves a refugee’s Form I-765, refugees will generally receive their EAD within one to two weeks. USCIS will mail their EAD via U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail to their address of record. The time frame for a refugee to receive their EAD card may vary, depending on delivery times. Please allow a total of 30 days before inquiring.

USCIS will also electronically provide the Social Security Administration with the information required to assign a Social Security number and mail a Social Security card to the refugee.

USCIS recognizes that documents such as an EAD and Social Security card are critical to a newly arrived refugee’s ability to integrate into the United States. This new process is the result of coordination across the U.S. government to support the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and refugee integration. USCIS is committed to streamlining and digitizing our processes to make them more efficient. We launched this process on Dec. 10, 2023, following a successful trial period.

This process does not apply to following-to join refugees admitted into the United States based on an approved Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. Additionally, refugees seeking a replacement or renewal EAD will still need to complete and submit Form I-765.

Last Reviewed/Updated: