Form I-765 Processing Time: Key Factors Affecting Your Application

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is a critical form used by noncitizens in the United States wishing to legally obtain the right to work. The processing time for this form can vary based on several factors, including the applicant’s immigration status and the current workload of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As of recent updates, the historical average processing times are publicly available, providing a general timeframe for applicants to anticipate the completion of their request.

It is essential for applicants to be aware of the processing times to plan accordingly. USCIS defines processing time as the duration from when the application is received to when it is completed. Applicants can check their case status online and can inquire about cases that exceed the normal processing times. Changes in immigration policies or procedural updates can influence these processing times, making it important for individuals to stay informed of the latest information provided by USCIS.


Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) are a necessity for many individuals requiring proof of their authorization to work in the U.S. due to their immigration status or other specific circumstances. The application process involves submitting the necessary paperwork and supporting documents to USCIS. It’s important for applicants to note that any inaccuracies in their submissions or changes in personal circumstances, such as mailing address, should be reported promptly to USCIS to avoid delays.

Understanding Form I-765

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is a critical document for foreign nationals in the United States who seek permission to work legally. This section gives an overview of its purpose and the eligibility requirements.

Purpose of Form I-765

The primary use of Form I-765 is for foreign nationals to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is required to work legally in the United States. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes these forms and, upon approval, issues an EAD that verifies the holder’s right to employment in the country.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility to file Form I-765 depends on one’s immigration status and specific circumstances. Categories of foreign nationals who may be eligible include but are not limited to:

  • Asylum Seekers and Refugees
  • Students seeking particular types of employment
  • Beneficiaries of visa categories that allow for work authorization
  • Applicants filing for adjustment of status

Applicants must fit into a specific category defined by USCIS to file Form I-765. Each category has unique requirements and instructions, clearly outlined by the USCIS on their official website.

General Processing Time Factors

Processing times for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, can be influenced by various systemic and individual factors. The time it takes for the USCIS to process these applications is not uniform, with certain elements having a direct impact on the duration.

USCIS Service Center Workloads

Each USCIS Service Center operates with its own workload, which can fluctuate due to the volume of applications received. A spike in the number of applications can lead to longer processing times. The distribution of workloads across service centers is a critical factor in determining the processing window for Form I-765.

Application Complexity

The specifics of an individual’s case can affect the processing time. Certain applications may present complex immigration scenarios or eligibility issues that require additional review and adjudication time. The complexity is a significant variable, as straightforward cases typically move through the system faster than those necessitating further scrutiny.

Filing Accuracy and Completeness

The accuracy and completeness of the application when submitted to USCIS are paramount. Applications that are correctly filled out and include all necessary documentation are processed more efficiently than those with errors or omissions. Ensuring that every form field is accurately completed and accompanied by the supporting evidence can expedite the overall processing time.

Historical Processing Time Trends

The processing times for Form I-765, known as the Application for Employment Authorization, have experienced variances over the years. In reviewing the period from FY2017 to FY2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) calculated processing times based on different metrics. For example, earlier years utilized the receipt date to waitlist determination date.

In FY2022, the methodology shifted to the receipt date to Bona Fide Determination (BFD) review for certain applications, such as the I-918/I-918A. This change was part of USCIS’s ongoing efforts to improve accuracy in processing time estimation.

The following points outline significant factors influencing processing times:

  • Policy Changes: Adjustments in immigration policies impact processing speeds.
  • Global Events: The COVID-19 pandemic noticeably affected processing times, among other events.
  • Productivity Measures: USCIS has adopted measures to increase productivity, addressing backlogs and processing delays.

USCIS introduced myProgress on July 12, 2023, for Form I-765 as a tool to provide applicants with a personalized view of their case processing status. This is indicative of the agency’s commitment to transparency and efficiency.

Fiscal Year Average Processing Time (Months)
FY2017 Data Not Specified
FY2018 Data Not Specified
FY2019 Data Not Specified
FY2020 Data Not Specified
FY2021 Data Not Specified

Note: Specific monthly averages are not provided here but can be found on the USCIS website.

Historical trends show that processing times for immigration forms, including I-765, fluctuate based on a variety of internal and external factors. Users may seek the latest updates directly from USCIS resources to acquire current and specific information.

Steps for Checking Processing Times

Applicants can track the estimated time for processing Form I-765 by using the available USCIS resources designed for this purpose. The process involves straightforward steps to access up-to-date information.

Using the USCIS Online Tool

  • To check processing times, the applicant should visit the USCIS Case Processing Times page.
  • Once there, one must select Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization from the drop-down menu.
  • Next, the applicant needs to choose the appropriate field office or service center handling their case.
  • Upon submission, the tool will display the processing times specific to the selected form and location.

Understanding Processing Time Reports

  • USCIS processing time reports indicate the time taken to process 80% of cases.
  • The displayed time frame reflects the historical processing period for most applicants but does not guarantee the same duration for new applications.
  • Applicants should note that complexities in individual cases could lead to variations in processing times beyond the average.

Impact of Application Volume on Processing Times

When evaluating the processing times for Form I-765, commonly known as the Application for Employment Authorization, it is critical to understand the role of application volume. An increase in the number of applications can significantly skew the processing timeframes.

Key Factors:

  1. Total Applications Received: A surge in applications leads to a backlog. As the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives more applications than it can process promptly, delays are inevitable.
  2. Staffing Levels: USCIS staffing levels may not increase proportionally to the application influx, creating a bottleneck.


  • High volume may result in processing times that extend beyond the posted averages.
  • Seasonal fluctuations in application submissions could momentarily increase processing times.

It is essential for applicants to monitor the USCIS website for the most updated processing times, keeping in mind that these are subject to change based on the current volume of cases. Applicants can also use the USCIS case status online tool to track the progress of their individual applications.

Workload Distribution:

  • USCIS may redistribute cases between service centers in an attempt to balance the workload and reduce processing times.
  • Despite these efforts, disproportionate application volumes can still lead to extended processing periods at certain centers.

In conclusion, the volume of Form I-765 applications has a direct and considerable effect on the processing times, shaping the experience of applicants awaiting employment authorizations. It is one of several variables that USCIS must manage to facilitate timely adjudications.

Estimating Your Case Processing Time

When estimating the processing time for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, individuals must consider various factors that contribute to the timeline. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides tools and resources to assist in determining how long it might take to process this specific form.

Key Factors Influencing Processing Times:

  • Form type and category
  • The USCIS office handling the case
  • Current workload and processing trends at USCIS

Applicants can access processing time information through the USCIS website, where they will find average processing times for Form I-765 at different service centers. Applicants should reference the receipt notice received from USCIS to identify their processing office.

Steps to Estimate Processing Times:

  1. Go to the USCIS website’s ‘Check Case Processing Times’ section.
  2. Select Form I-765 from the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose the appropriate form category.
  4. Identify the USCIS office processing the application, as specified in the receipt notice.

USCIS has also expanded the myProgress tool to include Form I-765, which provides a personalized processing time based on an individual’s specific case details.

Typical Timeframe:

  • Initial estimate will be available on the USCIS website.
  • Cases pending more than six months may warrant an inquiry.

It’s important for applicants to check the USCIS site regularly for updates, as processing times can vary due to workload and staffing levels.

Strategies to Potentially Reduce Waiting Time

When applying for employment authorization using Form I-765, applicants often seek ways to expedite the process. Efficient strategies can lead to shorter waiting times and a smoother application process.

Premium Processing Option

In 2022, USCIS expanded its premium processing options to include a wider range of forms, such as Form I-765. For an additional fee, premium processing shortens the processing time to a specified timeframe. For most eligible categories, this means a decision or a request for evidence is issued by USCIS usually within 15 calendar days.

Accurate and Complete Application Submission

Submitting an accurate and complete application can greatly influence the processing time. Applications must be carefully reviewed to ensure that all required fields are filled out correctly and supporting documentation is complete. Any errors or omissions can result in delays or a denial, necessitating resubmission.

Timely Response to USCIS Requests

Occasionally, USCIS may require additional information or documentation to make a decision on an application. Applicant’s prompt response to these Requests for Evidence (RFEs) can prevent unnecessary delays. It is beneficial to respond well before the given deadline to maintain the application’s processing momentum.

What to Do If Processing Is Delayed

When an individual experiences delays beyond the average processing time for Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), they have several avenues to pursue additional information and potentially expedite the resolution of their case.

USCIS Contact Options

  • Online Tools: Applicants can use the USCIS online Case Status tool to check the status of their application. If the case appears to be outside the normal processing time, they can also use the e-Request tool to inquire about the delay.
  • Phone Contact: Another option is to contact the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. For hearing impaired individuals, there is a TTY number, 1-800-767-1833.

Case Inquiry and Follow-Up

  • Case Inquiry: If the Form I-765 processing time exceeds the posted timeframe on the USCIS website, applicants may submit a case inquiry. The standard reference to consider for an inquiry is cases pending more than six months.
  • Follow-Up: After submitting a case inquiry, if there’s no response or resolution, applicants can consider escalating the inquiry. This can be done by contacting the USCIS ombudsman or, if applicable, by seeking assistance from a congressional representative’s office.

Role of Legal Representation in Processing Time

Legal representation can influence the processing time of Form I-765, or Application for Employment Authorization, albeit indirectly. Experienced immigration attorneys are well-versed in the complexities of immigration forms and can provide considerable benefits during the application process.

Attention to Detail: Lawyers typically ensure that every section of Form I-765 is accurately filled out, reducing the likelihood of delays due to errors.

  • Precision: A correctly submitted form is less likely to require additional evidence or corrections.
  • Expertise: Attorneys know the appropriate documents to include, which supports the expediency of the process.

Guidance on Evidence: Legal representatives can advise applicants on the specific types of evidence that strengthen their case. This may include providing comprehensive personal statements or acquiring affidavits that support their eligibility. Strong and relevant evidentiary support can reduce the need for USCIS to issue a Request for Evidence (RFE).

Timely Responses: In the event that USCIS issues an RFE, a lawyer can help respond promptly and correctly. Rapid and accurate responses to RFEs can prevent additional delays in processing times.

Case Tracking: Attorneys often monitor the progress of the application and are poised to take necessary follow-up actions, which can assist in keeping the application moving through the system.

Benefit of Legal Representation Impact on Processing Time
Error-free application submission Potentially reduces delays
Providing complete documentation Decreases chances of RFE
Responding efficiently to RFEs Minimizes processing extension
Continual case monitoring Helps maintain application flow

It should be noted that while legal representation can help ensure the application is well-prepared and minimize unnecessary delays, it does not guarantee faster processing by USCIS. The processing time can still vary based on workload, individual case complexities, and other factors beyond an attorney’s control.

Related Forms and Processes

The processing of Form I-765 for employment authorization often intersects with other immigration forms and procedures, notably when applicants are also seeking adjustments of status or fall under special categories requiring employment authorization.

Connection with Form I-485

Form I-485, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is frequently filed in conjunction with Form I-765. Applicants who are adjusting their status to that of a lawful permanent resident may concurrently apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to seek employment while their I-485 application is pending.

Work Authorization for Asylum Applicants

Asylum applicants may file Form I-765 to obtain work authorization while their asylum application is being processed. There is a required 150-day waiting period before they can receive an EAD which starts from the date they filed a complete asylum application.

Renewal and Replacement of Employment Authorization Documents

EADs are not permanent and typically need renewal every one to two years. The applicants must file Form I-765 for renewal purposes, ideally, 180 days before the current EAD expires. For lost, stolen, or damaged EADs, Form I-765 is also used to request a replacement document.