Can I Work While I Wait for My Marriage Green Card?

Navigating the complexities of immigration law can be challenging, especially when you’re dealing with life-changing events such as marriage. One common question asked by spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents is: Can I work while waiting for my marriage-based green card? The answer is nuanced, depending on various factors including your current immigration status, and whether you’re applying from within the U.S. or from abroad. Learn about our firm.

Inside the U.S.

If you’re already in the U.S. on a valid visa and you’ve filed an adjustment of status application to become a permanent resident, you can also file Form I-765 for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), commonly known as a work permit. The work permit will allow you to work legally in the U.S. while your green card application is being processed.

You’ll typically receive the work permit within a few months after filing, and it is generally valid for one year. It can be renewed as long as your green card application is still pending. Note that processing times can vary, and there may be delays, so plan accordingly.

Outside the U.S.

If you’re applying from outside the U.S. through consular processing, the situation is different. Generally, you won’t be authorized to work in the U.S. until you have been issued your marriage-based green card and enter the United States. Some visas may allow you to work while you await the consular interview, but these are specific cases and not the norm for those waiting for a marriage-based green card.

K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Holders

If you came to the U.S. on a K-1 fiancé(e) visa, you can apply for a work permit after marrying your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and filing for an adjustment of status. As with other applicants within the U.S., this permit usually takes a few months to process and should be valid for one year, renewable as long as your green card application is pending.


While waiting for your work permit or green card, it’s crucial not to engage in unauthorized employment, as doing so can jeopardize your application and could lead to removal proceedings. Ensure you have the necessary authorizations before you start any form of employment in the U.S.

Caveats and Challenges

The current U.S. immigration system faces various challenges, including processing delays due to high demand, policy changes, and administrative obstacles. As a result, it’s essential to stay updated on current laws and processing times, as they could affect your ability to work while waiting for your green card. Always consult with an immigration attorney to get personalized advice tailored to your situation.

In summary, your ability to work while waiting for a marriage-based green card depends on your existing immigration status, the method by which you are applying for a green card, and where you are applying from. Generally speaking, if you are in the U.S. and have filed for an adjustment of status, you can apply for a work permit to legally work while you await your green card. If you’re applying from outside the U.S., you typically won’t be able to work until you receive your green card. Regardless of your situation, consult with an immigration attorney to ensure you’re following the correct procedures and timelines.

Read another article.