Learn the Differences Between Green Cards and Employment Authorization Documents

19 June 2017 |

As a foreign worker in the United States, you are entitled to be employed in various categories. As most people know, you have to be granted permission in one of three categories to work legally. If you are granted permission, it might be confusing to know what exactly your documents mean. You might have a lot of questions. What’s the difference between an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and a visa for work? Are green card immigration and EAD different? Take a look at the following article for the answers to common green card, EAD and immigration questions.

EAD and Green Card

What is an Employment Authorization Document?

All foreign nationals are required to obtain a work visa or Employment Authorization in order to start working legally in the United States. Authorization is required whether or not it is on a temporary or permanent basis. The Employment Authorization Document is acquired by filing Form I-765, which is entitled “Application for Employment Authorization.” Once an EAD has been acquired, the applicant can work in the United States legally for the length of time the EAD is granted.

In short, an Employment Authorization Document can also be referred to as a work permit for the United States. It is specifically for foreign nationals who do not have permanent residency (green card) or citizenship.

Once Employment Authorization is granted, EAD allows you to work for any employer in the United States. However, it is purely for work and it does not mean the EAD holder has any immigrant status in the United States.

Employment Authorization Documents are normally valid for one to two years. At the end of your Employment Authorization, a renewal of the EAD if you wish to continue working in the US. At this point, just like the first application, you do not need to include a specific employer, as this permit is not employer-specific.

When Can You Apply for an Employment Authorization Document?

There are many circumstances that would lead you to applying for an EAD. You may need proof of your legal ability to work in the United States because you are a foreign national and an asylum seeker, refugee, or other non-immigrant. You may need Employment Authorization because you are in the process of filing for permanent residence. Or you may need the EAD because you are allowed to reside in the US but you have to request the right to be legally able to work, for example if you are on an F-1 or M-1 visa as a student.

It is important to remember that an Employment Authorization Document is different from a work visa or a green card, as EAD does not give immigrant status. You do not need to apply for an EAD if you have a green card or if you have a work visa that allows you to work for a particular company or employer.

What is a Green Card?

Often, when a person wishes to work and live in the United States, obtaining a green card or permanent residency is the main goal. An EAD can help that person on the way to achieving a green card. A green card holder has lawful permanent residence in the United States. This means that they are allowed to live and work in the US for any employer, given that they comply with their terms of permanent residency.

If you have a green card, you do not need an additional Employment Authorization Document. This is because the legal ability to work is included in the green card.

A green card also consists of other benefits, including the abilities to travel in and out of the country on a temporary basis and to file for a green card for a spouse or an unmarried child. An Employment Authorization Document does not allow you to travel and return to the US, nor does it allow you to sponsor other people since you are not considered an immigrant.

The EAD is more limited in its scope, but it is available to a wider variety of people. The Employment Authorization Document also varies in the length it is valid. It is also slightly quicker and easier to apply for an EAD, as the process for green card applications is lengthy. Because many people cannot afford to wait many years without working before their green card is granted, there are benefits to applying for the EAD in the meantime.

Insurance Options for EAD and Green Card Holders

Whether you are in the US for work with an EAD or you are a permanent resident with a green card, having adequate health insurance is important. Living and working in the US means you may need to be treated by a doctor in the US. You may get injured, have a medical emergency, or need a physical checkup and prescription drugs to treat a condition. All of these procedures are costly if you don’t have insurance which leaves many people struggling to pay huge medical bills.

There are different insurance options for different groups of people. For example, people with an EAD will find different insurance plans than people with a green card. And within the green card category there are different options depending on whether your main home is the US or another country.

Insurance Options for EAD Workers

Getting health insurance when you have an EAD is very similar to getting insurance as a visitor to the US, since the EAD does not grant you any immigration or permanent resident status. You do, however, have a lot of choices as there are many different health insurance plans for visitors to the US.

Insurance for Green Card Holders

There are two main options for green card health insurance.

The first option is for a green card holder who lives in the US and whose home country is the US. Ideal plans for green card holders include Green Cover, Inbound Choice, Inbound Immigrant, Visitor Care, Patriot America Plus, Patriot America, Patriot Go Travel and Patriot Platinum plans.

The second option for green card holders is a plan that covers the person when their home country is outside of the US. Such Green Card holders can choose from the Inbound Choice, Inbound Immigrant, Patriot America Plus, Patriot America, Patriot Go travel and Patriot Platinum, Liaison Continent, Liaison Majestic, Liaison International, Diplomat LT plans.

Whether you’re a green card holder or have an EAD to work in the United States, health insurance is important. Visitor Guard can help with your visitor insurance needs so contact us today for a quote.