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Can I file I-765 Online for H4 EAD, L2 EAD, J2 EAD, or F1 OPT and STEM OPT

I was very excited to begin work and gain some work experience in the United States. However, I soon discovered that I needed to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card in order to work in the United States. This is when I discovered the online I-765 application form. Whether you are an H-4, L-2, F1, or J-2 visa holder, you would need to get an EAD to legally work in the United States.

Initially, I felt the idea of filling out the I-765 form online to be overwhelming, especially since I had never gone through the online process before, but honestly speaking it's a very simple process.

Please note all the visa categories are not eligible for the online I-765 filing. I am sharing my experience so that others can also find this helpful.

Whenever I googled who can file the I-765 form online, search results kept showing me that all the categories are eligible for online filing which was very confusing as it kept showing me the I-765 process by mail thus I thought to write this article for I-765 online process.

Related post: How to apply for J2 EAD ?

I-765 Form Online

These are the high-level steps you would need to file the I-765 form online. Once you create your account and select the I-765 form, the USCIS website will automatically guide you through each step in detail.

01. Create an account with USCIS

02. Go to myUSCIS > My Account > File a form online

03. Select form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization from the drop-down menu

I-765 Online Application

04. Before you start filling out the I-765 form online

  • Check your eligibility for the online I-765 form: There are very limited categories that are currently eligible for online I-765 applications. I have listed them in the next section. I filed under an F-1 visa.

  • The filing fee is $410 which you need to pay online.

  • Supporting documents required: I-94, passport, visa copy, color 2 by 2 passport-style photograph, etc.

  • Biometric requirement: USCIS may require that you appear for an interview or provide biometrics (fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature) to verify your identity.

05. Now, fill I-765 form online

  • The online I-765 form is no different from the physical form. It asks you for the same set of information.

  • However, you can save your progress and resume it anytime.

  • Do not submit duplicate applications i.e. one via physical mail and another online, in this case, your application might get denied.

  • The form is saved for 30 days.

  • Complete the form and hit the button "review and submit".

06. After you submit your I-765 online application

  • You can track your case online with the case number generated.

  • Respond to RFE (Request for Further Evidence): You can do this online by submitting the necessary documents. No need to send it via physical mail.

  • Receive your decision from USCIS.

Who can File I-765 Online?

As of Feb 2023, only the following I-765 categories are eligible to apply for an EAD through the I-765 online application process. You will find the list when you start filling out the I-765 application.

  1. (a)(12) – Temporary Protected Status (You are submitting an initial Form I-821 or you have an approved Form I-821);

  2. (c)(3)(A) – F-1 student, pre-completion OPT;

  3. (c)(3)(B) – F-1 student, post-completion OPT;

  4. (c)(3)(C) – F-1 student, 24-month extension for STEM students (students holding a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics);

  5. (c)(8) – Applicants for Asylum under the ABC Settlement Agreement;

  6. (c)(8) – Application for Employment Authorization Based on Pending Form I-589, Application for Asylum or for Withholding of Removal;

  7. (c)(11) – Parole;

  8. (c)(19) – Temporary Protected Status (You have a pending Form I-821); or

  9. (c)(33) – Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) (You must have a pending or approved Form I-821D in order to file Form I-765).

It's important to keep in mind that it's best to refer to the USCIS website for the latest information. USCIS might add new categories in the future who can file online. You can refer to this USCIS link for the latest information.

Note that the following I-765 categories are not eligible for filing I-765 online as of Feb 2023. However, they can file on paper.

  • (a)(18) – Spouse of L1 visa holder

  • (c)(26) – Spouse of H1-B visa holder with approved I-140

  • (c)(5) – J-2 spouse or child of J-1 exchange visitor

I-765 Online Filing Fee

The filing fee for the I-765 form, Application for Employment Authorization is $410. It's not required for some of the categories though. You might be even eligible to request a fee waiver. Check it out here.

  1. Once you complete the I-765 form online, you would need to digitally sign your application.

  2. Then, you would need to pay the filing fee of $410.

  3. Online payment options include a credit card, debit card, or payment from a checking/savings account.

  4. After clicking "Pay and submit," you will be directed to to complete the payment.

  5. Note that the USCIS filing fee is non-refundable.

  6. Do not click the Back or Refresh button on your browser.

  7. If you are not ready to proceed with the payment, click the Cancel button to return to the USCIS online portal.

I-765 Processing Time

The processing time for an I-765 application can vary depending on a number of factors, including the category under which you have applied, the USCIS service center (California, Potomac, Vermont, National Benefits Center, Nebraska & Texas) where your application was sent, and any processing delays or issues that may arise during the review process.

In general, USCIS provides an estimated processing time range for I-765 applications on its website, which is regularly updated. You can find processing time here. It's the same whether you apply online or via mail. However, the estimated processing time range for I-765 applications as of Feb 2023 is as follows:

  • For F-1 students: 2 months (shown below as of Feb 2023)

  • For spouses of H-1B visa holders: 5.5 to 10 months

  • For spouses of L-1 visa holders: 8 to 10 months

  • For adjustment of status applicants: 10 to 21 months