By Atty. Paul Choi

Paul Choi is an immigration attorney practicing in Encino, California. As a public service, he will answer all questions regarding immigration and naturalization for free either by mail, email at, on the phone, or in person or you may contact his administrator, Philip Abramowitz at 818 714-2226, or The following is one such question and the answer by Mr. Choi.

Question: I was petitioned by my father who is a permanent resident of the U.S. My petition was approved last week. I read on the internet that I can now apply for a work permit because I have an approved petition. How do I file the work permit and how long does it take to get it? When will I be able to obtain my green card?

Answer: The Internet is a treasure trove of information. Unfortunately, not all the information you read on the internet is accurate or even applicable to you. Sometimes the authors of articles on the internet don’t give you the fine details. If you really want to obtain the correct information I suggest two places you can go: Try the website of the USCIS at That website has forms and instructions. It may not always be clear but it is accurate.

Secondly, I am of the opinion that a lawyer is here to help the community first and foremost. For this reason I offer free consultation either by email, phone or in person. I answer many of these questions in this column, but I also speak to people everyday and try to help them, for free. With most lawyers charging $100 to even $300 just to meet with you for 30 minutes, I think my offer to give free advice cannot be beat. There is no obligation and I try to make my answers short and easy to understand.

With regards to a work permit, just having an approved family petition does not ordinarily give you the right to a work permit. In order to obtain a work permit through an approved family based petition, you must first, be in legal status in the U.S. or qualify for the benefits under Section 245i by having a petition filed for you before April 30, 2001, and the quota for the category under which your petition falls must be current and available.

In your case, if you were petitioned by a parent who is a lawful permanent resident, the quota falls under Second Preference. If you are under 21 and single, it is Second Preference A and if you are over 21 and single, it is Second Preference B. In either case, the quota is backlogged several years at least and this means you will have to wait this length of time before you can qualify for a work permit. A work permit is granted as part of an application to adjust status to permanent resident and this application cannot be filed until the quota for your petition is open. Remember if you are out of status or worked illegally, you cannot qualify for adjustment of status in most cases.

There are other means of obtaining a work permit. This list mentions most of the popular ways to obtain a work permit. You can obtain a work permit, if you file an application for adjustment of status. You can obtain a work permit if you are the spouse of a E-2 or E-1 treaty trader or investor. You can obtain a work permit as a domestic worker entering on a B-1 visa to work for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident residing abroad who is temporarily travelling to the U.S.. You can obtain a work permit if you have an approved petition filed under the Violence Against Women Act, (VAWA) as an abused spouse.

Persons who are placed in removal or deportation proceedings often can obtain a work permit while their applications for relief from removal are pending. Persons who have an approved or prima facie valid application for political asylum can apply for a work permit. Spouses of diplomats in the U.S. can obtain a work permit. Persons who are victims of crimes and qualify for the U visa can obtain a work permit. Also persons who are government witnesses can often obtain a work permit. Certain students with permission from the school and the USCIS can obtain a work permit. This list is by no means exhaustive as there are still other means of applying for a work permit. For more information regarding your eligibility, you may wish to view the form I-765 and accompanying instructions contained on the website of the USCIS.


Atty Paul Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration, naturalization and deportation defense for FREE. Contact him at HYPERLINK “” or at 818 714-2226. He is located at 16000 Ventura Blvd, Ste. 1201, Encino, California 91436.