USCIS identifies work authorization given for a type of visa by a category code. This article will provide details on the EAD Category Codes, the complete list of the codes, what categories are eligible for 180 days automatic extension.
What is Employment Authorization Document Code or EAD Code ?
USCIS provides work authorization to certain visa holders and spouses in US. Each of the eligible individuals for such employment authorization need to apply to USCIS using form I-765 and specify their category of work authorization. This category is called the Employment Authorization Document Code or in short EAD Code in context of US immigration.
The EAD code is also visible on the Employment Authorization Card (EAD) Card issued by USCIS. The EAD Card issued by USCIS is also called as I-766 form. Don’t be confused with the name form after I-766, it is nothing but the EAD Card. It looks like below on the card.
Also, the EAD category codes are completely different from Green Card Category Codes. Even though they look the same or similar, they mean completely different things. For example, C26 code under EAD Category code means EAD given for H4 visa holders. But, C26 code under the Green Card category codes is given for spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents, who are subject to country limits and get green card using the adjustment of status option. So, do not be confused.
180 Days Automatic Extension of EAD to Work
From Jan 17, 2017, depending on the category code of the EAD issued by USCIS, one can work for up to 180 days, while the EAD application is pending with USCIS. This is called 180 days automatic extension of EAD.
For instance, H4 Visa EAD Card falls under Category C26 and it does not qualify for automatic 180 days extension. Meaning, H4 holder cannot work when their I-765 EAD Application is pending with USCIS, they need the physical copy of the card in hand to continue working. Same is the case with L2 EAD holders with category code A180. Below are the conditions and full list of EAD category codes that have 180 days automatic extension eligibility.
Conditions for Automatic 180 Days Extension of EAD for Certain Category Codes
- Properly filed EAD renewal before current EAD Expiration.
- EAD Category code falls under the eligible category as classified by USCIS as listed ( see below): A03, A05, A07, A08, A10, C08, C09, C10, C16, C20, C22, C24, C31, and A12 or C19.
- Also, the Category Code on your current valid EAD Card matches with the “Class Requested” EAD receipt notice.
List of EAD Category Codes with 180 Days Automatic Eligibility Info
USCIS EAD Category Code
EAD Category Eligibility Description
180 Days Automatic Extension Eligibility
A lawful temporary resident pursuant to sections 245A or 210 of the INA
Paroled as refugee
Asylee (granted asylum)
Citizen of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands or Palau admitted as a nonimmigrant
Granted Withholding of Deportation or Removal
Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted under 8 CFR 244.12
IMMACT Family Unity beneficiary
(Section 301 of the Immigration Act of 1990)
LIFE Act Family Unity beneficiary
(Section 1504 of the Legal Immigrant Family Equity (LIFE) Act Amendments)
T-1 nonimmigrant (victims of severe form of trafficking)
L2 spouse of an L1 visa intracompany transfer
U1 nonimmigrant (victims of certain criminal activity)
Dependent of A-1 or A-2 foreign government official
Dependent of TECRO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office) E-1 Non-immigrant
Pre-completion OPT F1 visa students
Post-completion OPT F1 visa students
24 month extension for Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) OPT students
F-1 student offered off-campus employment under the Sponsorship of Qualifying International Organization
F-1 student seeking off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship
Spouse or unmarried dependent child of G-1, G-3 or G-4 nonimmigrant (Representative of International Organization and their dependents)
J-2 spouse or minor child of a J-1 exchange visitor
M-1 student seeking practical training after completing studies
Dependent of NATO-1 through NATO-7 nonimmigrant
Asylum applicant (w/ pending asylum application) who filed for asylum on or after January 4, 1995
Adjustment of status applicant
An alien paroled into the United States in the public interest or temporarily for emergency reasons
Spouse of an E-2 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) investor; eligible for employment in the CNMI only
Alien granted deferred action
Registry applicant based on continuous residence since January 1, 1972
B1 nonimmigrant who is the personal or domestic servant of a nonimmigrant employer
B1 nonimmigrant domestic servant of a U.S. citizen
B1 nonimmigrant employed by foreign airline
Alien with a final order of deportation/order of supervision;
Temporary Protected Status applicant under 8 CFR 244.5
Alien who has filed a completed legalization application for special agricultural workers
S visa non-immigrant
Alien who has filed a completed legalization application under INA 245A
Irish peace process (Q-2)
LIFE legalization applicant
Certain H4 Visa spouses of H1B holders, who qualify for it.
Abused spouse of an A nonimmigrant
Abused spouse of an E-3 nonimmigrant
Abused spouse of an G nonimmigrant
Abused spouse of an H nonimmigrant
An alien who has been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances
Spouse or unmarried child of a principal beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant petition facing compelling circumstances
Yes, they both are same. The main difference is that, when you enter the EAD Category Code, you would enter it with parenthesis and when that is printed on the EAD Card, it will be turned into upper case and parenthesis are removed.
Example : EAD Category Code for F1 Visa Post completion OPT is C03B on the EAD Card, but when you apply, you would enter it in form as (c)(3)(B) as per I-765 instructions. Technically, both are same. If you notice, the parenthesis are removed and a zero is added in front for the same on EAD card.
No, only F1 OPT, STEM OPT extension applicants can file I-765 form online. The provision for online submission was added for F1 Students in April 2021. Check USCIS press release