What is the Difference between Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) and a Green Card?

19 June 2017 |

As a foreign worker in the United States, you are entitled to be employed in various categories. As most people are aware, you are only allowed to work if you are granted permission in one of these categories. But after this, it becomes confusing. What’s the difference between an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and a visa for work? How does a Green Card differ from an EAD? Take a look at the following article for the answers to common EAD and Green Card questions.

EAD and Green Card

What is an Employment Authorization Document?

Every foreign national must acquire a work visa or authorization in order to enter employment in the United States, whether or not this 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 called a work permit for the United States. It is specifically for foreign nationals who do not have permanent residency (Green Card) or citizenship.
After you apply for Employment Authorization and it is granted, the EAD allows you to work for any employer in the United States. However, it is purely for work and it does not mean that the holder has any immigrant status.

Employment Authorization Documents are normally valid for two years and sometimes for one year. At the end of the valid period you must apply for a renewal of the EAD if you wish to continue working in the US. At this point, and at all points, in the application procedure, you do not need to involve a specific employer as this permit is not employer-specific.

When Can You Apply for an Employment Authorization Document?

There are many circumstances in which you need to apply 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 the EAD 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 are not allowed to work until you request the right to, 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. 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?

Normally, when a person wishes to work and live in the United States, the 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.
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 how long you can have the document. 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 the 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, you need to arrange adequate health insurance for your needs. Living and working in the US means you may need to be treated by a doctor. You may be injured in an accident, need life-saving surgery, or need to get prescription drugs to treat a new medical 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 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 the EAD

Getting health insurance when you have an EAD is essentially the same as getting insurance as a visitor to the US, since the EAD does not grant you any immigration 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 holders looking for health insurance.
The first is for a US Green Card holder who lives in the US and whose home country is the US. Ideal plans for Green Card holders include the Inbound Choice, Inbound Immigrant, Visitor Care, Patriot America Plus, Patriot America, Patriot Go Travel and Patriot Platinum plans.

The second option for a Green Card holder 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.