Apply for these documents once you have settled in the U.S.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

Working in the U.S. without an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is illegal.

​Unfortunately, the processing times for EAD applications are very long – from several months to over a year. Apply for an EAD as soon as possible.

You cannot file form I-765 online if you are filing a Request for Fee Waiver (form I-912). In this case, you have to file the documents by mail.

To apply for an EAD:

  1. Fill out form I-765, a work permit application for each member of the family who needs a permission to work.
    • If you are applying under the humanitarian parole status (including the Uniting for Ukraine program), in box 27 put category (c)(11). If you are applying under TPS, put (a)(12). For other immigration categories, refer to the chart.
    • Check boxes 14 and 15 to receive a Social Security Card (even if you previously received an SSN and card without work authorization). 
  2. If you cannot afford paying the $410 filing fee, fill out form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver (one per family). Be thorough in explaining your inability to pay the fees – you cannot appeal a denial of the fee waiver!
    • If you have already received an approval for welfare benefits, such as Medicaid/Medi-Cal, food stamps or cash aid, put that information in I-912 form and attach a proof (a document called “verification of benefits” from the social service).
    • If multiple family members are applying for EAD, you should send form I-912 together with all I-765 applications. Each family member must sign the form on page 16. A parent or legal guardian must sign for children under the age of 14.
  3. Attach the following documents:
    • passport-type photos;
    • a copy of the first page of your passport and the page with the stamp showing entry in the U.S., if any;
    • a copy of your I-94 (front and back). If you did not receive an I-94 at the border, print it from website
    • a certified translation of the marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates – if you are filing a Fee Waiver request for the entire family;  
  4. Pay the fee of $410 for each I-765 if you are NOT filing a Fee Waiver request. (If filing by mail, you can attach a check or money order addressed to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.)
  5. If filing by mail, mail the documents to USCIS at the address appropriate for your immigration category.

When USCIS receives your application, it will email you Form I-797C, Notice of Action. If you have not received a Notice of Action within a month of submitting your application, call USCIS to make sure your application was received.

Video with instructions for filling out forms I-765 and I-912 from immigration lawyer Alex Tovaryan:

Attention! If you have arrived under the Uniting for Ukraine program, your A-number is printed on your Travel Authorization. Enter your A-number in the respective fields on from I-765 and I-912.

EAD for children: In order for you to be able to claim Child Tax Credit on your future tax return, your child must have a social security number with permission to work. To obtain this number for a child, you need to submit an EAD application for the child as well. 
 If you have moved since you filed any applications with USCIS, change your address via form AR-11 – Change of Address or your USCIS online account! Include the receipt number for any pending cases with USCIS with your address change request. Otherwise USCIS will mail all correspondence and documents to your old address!

Social Security Card and Number (SSN)

Every resident in the U.S. has a Social Security Number (SSN). This number is used by various U.S. authorities and financial institutions to track your wages, earnings and credit history. An SSN is given to you for lifetime.

Ordinarily, you receive the SSN when you receive your work authorization. Check box 14 on your I-765 for a Social Security Card to be issued concurrently with your Employment Authorization Card. You should be able to open a bank account, rent an apartment, get health insurance or apply for a driver’s license without an SSN. Many organizations ask for an SSN, but you aren’t required to provide it if you don’t yet have one.

You may be eligible to receive an SSN earlier than your work permit if you are applying for welfare benefits. In this case, your local welfare agency should give you a referral letter to Social Security Administration explaining that the agency needs your SSN in order to process your application for benefits. With this letter, Social Security Administration will accept your application for an SSN.

To apply for an SSN:

  1. Fill out the application for Social Security Card.
  2. Print the application and bring it to the nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) office, along with your passport, I-94, birth certificate, marriage certificate, and the referral letter from the welfare agency. Check with the office in advance whether you need to make an appointment. If not, arrive early, before opening hours, to avoid the line.
Prepare in advance a certified translation of documents that are not in English. You can order it from any online certified translation service you find on Google.
Due to COVID-19 measures, you may not be able to come to a Social Security Administration office earlier than 14 days after crossing the border.

See also:

Video about obtaining an SSN in the State of Washington (in Russian):

Instruction in Ukrainian: 

Official documents in English:

Driver’s License

Driver’s License is a primary identification document in the U.S. Apart from showing your permission to drive, it is commonly used whenever someone needs to verify your name or age. If you do not drive, instead of a driver’s license, you can obtain an identification (ID) card for identification purposes.

Different states have different laws about how long you can drive with a foreign driver’s license. In California, if you are a visitor, you can drive with a foreign license for the duration of your visit, but if you are planning on becoming a resident (i.e. live in California), you must apply for a California driver’s license within 10 days

Even if you are not required to do so by law, having a U.S. driver’s license has advantages:

  • It’s a more familiar form of identification for Americans than your foreign passport.
  • You will likely qualify for lower rates of liability insurance (which is mandatory) with a U.S. driver’s license than with a foreign driver’s license.
  • U.S. driver’s license (REAL ID) can be used as an ID for domestic flights, so you won’t need to bring your passport for trips within the U.S.

If you apply for a U.S. driver’s license, you will have to pass a vision and possibly medical screening, a knowledge test (theoretical part), and a driving test (practical part).

Visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website to find out how to apply for a driver’s license or ID.

In California:

In order to get REAL ID in California, you have to have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card or a proof of TPS status. Until you receive one of these documents, you can only apply for a so-called “AB-60” driver’s license which cannot be used for boarding flights. You may apply for an “AB-60” driver’s license even if you do not yet have an SSN.
  1. If you are applying for a driver’s license – prepare for your exam! Study Driver’s Handbook and take practice tests. DMV has handbooks in different languages, including Russian.
  2. Fill out an online application. Print out the email with your Confirmation Number.
  3. Pick the closest DMV location and make an appointment if available. If you come without an appointment, arrive early, before opening hours, to avoid the line. 
  4. Bring your
    • passport;
    • i-94; 
    • 2 documents proving your CA residency (rental agreement, utility bill in your name, letter from the landlord – see full list of acceptable documents);
    • your Confirmation Number; and
    • license fee: $39 for a driver’s license, or $33 for an ID.
  5. At the DMV, your fingerprints and photo will be taken. If you are applying for a driver’s license, be prepared to submit to the vision exam and take the written knowledge test at the DMV.
  6. Pass the driving test (for a driver’s license). In California, you take the driving test in your own car with an officer who sits as a passenger and scores your performance.
If you don’t know how to drive, you can go to a driving school or ask your friends or family to teach you. In California, people over 18 years old are not required to take driver’s education classes.